they are flooding our yard now…hopping in the sprinkler….catching their daily dozen worms. Skirts spread, songs obvious….breasts popping against the green.
Many seem adolescent robins. They gathered, there were a bunch of them, and then all of a sudden they were gone. I mean gone. Suddenly I saw none.
Then, September 20, one month later, robins returned. Of course I imagine they are not the same robins, they must be a round-robins-come-later. Maybe Canadian? Coastal Maine robins I thought had gone south. It is swell to see those skirts fluff up when they land or swoop into a sprinkler. It can’t be the same robins I spotted in late August. They were what I thought a bumper crop; these are already skinny and sleek, and built for distance flying. None of those fat round breasts suitable for framing of a month ago. . Seeing these September robins is infused with a built in sadness. I remember not to depend upon them. They too will leave.
If I don’t feel betrayed by them, it is because I don’t blame them. There are cool nights, even if it grows warm with each day’s sunshine. Robins seem to get the same advance e-mail that the tallest of oak and maple trees receive. Turncoats, we’re apt to think with similar colors. But wait, not betraying us they’re simply responding to the temperature of the times. That sweet sorrow of parting.
Good sleeping weather during cool nights requires blankets or quilts. Feathers won’t suffice unless turned to down. Robin feathers are not useful as down.
The trouble with writing about birds, I can look them up. Look up their migration patterns, number of worms they eat in a day, how long they live. Turns out my romantic notion of waves of robins coming through Portland isn’t close to being true I learn that they are likely the same robins, who’ve just been eating elsewhere. Eating out, so to speak. Working other near-by fields. They haven’t headed out and won’t till the snow flies. Though in Maine that could be any day now, but probably we will have another month.
My sense of them is mine, and I’ll stick with it. To me they are signal bearers, they signal season’s end and season’s beginnings. My heart leaps when I hear or see them in spring, and it weeps when I see them in fall. Gathering as if to head out.
There’s something about robins, leaves, and pine cones that is very much like clutter. They don’t blend with the green, so they seem strangers in a strange land. I see their playmates too: the small chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers in my birdbath and of course the occasional titmouse. Small birds which I’ve read have similar patterns and habits in migration. It gets quieter in Maine when they all leave.
But just now at the height of turning to the new season, they consider my birdbath to be a spa. They come, drink, and fluff about as if they hadn’t had a shower in a month. Glad to have them, even though they seem to be just passing through. They lift my spirits now, and when they return in spring (See poem from April 11) they make them soar.