A Not-So-Empty Nest

The robin obviously had a problem with us.

I was hanging out on the back porch with my friend Jenny Duncombe — minding our own business — but this little bird was having none of it.

At first she squawked from the safety of a pine tree 20 feet away, but things soon grew more Hitchcockian.

When her initial cries failed to dislodge us, she moved in, squawking in our faces, a mere arm’s length from where we stood.

I’m certain dive-bombing would have commenced if we had remained oblivious, but we realized any bird this brave must have been protecting something pretty important.

“Where’s the nest?” asked Jenny, as she scanned the roof of my house to no avail.

Instead, we spied a little bundle of immaculately interwoven twigs on the bottom row of an old shelf that was used to hold a small barbeque.

Then we saw tiny beaks protruding skyward from bowels of the nest.

We had robin chicks. Officially.

The mother had every right to be proud of the nest she built. It was tucked away below a sturdy roof that protected her brood from both the elements and an array of potential predators.

“A nice neighbourhood,” she must have thought. “A good place to raise kids.”

Until Jenny and I showed up.

Despite her palpable excitement, Jenny insisted we vacate the premises immediately, 

“We almost gave the mom a heart attack. Let’s leave them alone for the rest of the night.”

So we went inside, closed the door, and peaked through the window at the newly minted family, reveling in our roles as impromptu bird biologists.

“You guys are bird-mothers now,” Jenny proclaimed to my roommates and I.

Of course she was exaggerating, but I do feel pangs of responsibility towards these nascent fowl.

“I’ll get to see them grow up,” I mused sentimentally.

The irony is inescapable; my roommates and I dwell in an unapologetic bachelor pad. It’s the type of place in which people live when they are only tentatively committed to adulthood — the type of place where houseplants occasionally die on windowsills.

And yet this bird chose us (albeit by accident) as the human caretakers of her babies. And my overriding emotion was one of gratitude.

I was grateful that this brave mother had given me the opportunity to witness child-rearing first hand. 

And I was even grateful that she forced me to confront my own self-image, and entertain the possibility that I am more mature than I give myself credit for.

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