Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. ~ Robert Frost
I have always considered myself a lifelong learner especially in the garden. And I find I learn the best through my experiences good or bad. Bad sometimes being the over the top, knee-jerk reactions to things. They have become less and less since retiring, but they still happen. Case in point was this spring as we awaited the nesting of the birds, especially the robins who usually nest in our front dwarf willows.
Every year we look forward to watching the robins make their nest, lay the eggs one a day, nurture the babies and see them fledge. So we were ecstatic when we saw a pair of robins checking out one of the trees in April just after the last spring snow. You can see the female robin above. Little did we know at the time that we would get to know her up close and personal.
Soon after the robin pair checked out the tree, I was sure they were set on that tree, and was happy knowing we would have a nest here again. A few days later though something strange happened. The bluebirds had chosen a house in the back garden, built a nest and were all set until a lone robin chased them out. Robins don’t nest in houses so I was perplexed as to why this robin was continuing to bully the bluebirds out of their nest. You can see her sitting here unrelenting as the bluebirds fought her unsuccessfully. They went on to another house and built a nest where they had a few babies who fledged.
Then one day, soon after the bluebird house fight, we heard an unusual banging on the front windows. Perched on the front porch bench was a robin pecking at the window. I thought nothing of it until the pecking moved from window to window all day long. It seemed the robin was protecting the area around the tree she had chosen, and saw another robin in the window. I read online to cover the windows with decals or paper to break up the robin’s image. It went on to say that if the robin didn’t stop she could wear herself out and die. Not to mention the incessant banging against the window did not stop if we ignored it, and the noise was making
us me crazy!
So I proceeded to cover every other pane with white paper. I left it loose on the ends so it would fly up and discourage the bird as she was now flying up and pecking into the windows. We moved the bench off the porch and she then took to flying from the trees right at the window. Eventually she eased up on the pecking, and just when we thought we had her calmed down, she went to the back of the house and started pecking relentlessly at our bedroom windows launching herself from the roof below. It was then that I surmised that the robin was clearing all similar birds from the area, including the bluebirds as they are also part of the thrush family.
At one point I had 3 of the windows in the front of the house and our bedroom windows completely covered with wrapping paper and white paper. Of course our neighbors noticed the paper on the windows and were asking all sorts of questions. And still the robin pecked at the windows more out of habit than anything by now. This was beginning to wear thin for us, and my patience was about gone. She seemed a bit more than quirky and we thought perhaps all the banging had loosened a few screws in her head.
So back to the internet, and with more research I bought an owl that we could hang. I really wanted her to nest here, but I was more concerned for the bird and our sanity. The owl seemed to work right away. The robin moved on to the unoccupied house next door. We had done all we could, and wished her well.
We unwrapped the house, and were settling in to the calm again when we heard an occasional peck at the front windows as the robins visited to find food in our garden. Then I spied the female gathering nesting materials. I was happy she would be nesting, and was shocked to see she had completed the foundation of nest in the original tree they had checked out in April. And right under the hanging owl. Great deterrent that owl!
As she built her nest, she would fly by, weave the nesting materials and then peck at the windows. She took forever to build the nest as she kept getting distracted by the robin she saw still in the window….I think at this point she had developed ADD. Her mate could be seen flying to the tree and calling to her to get back to the nest-building. But in three days she finally completed the nest, and three days after that she laid her first egg. Whew!
And after all that has happened, I have been trying to figure out the lesson of this robin adventure. One thing I have learned throughout my life is that the more distressing the experience, the more profound the lesson. And each experience will be interpreted differently depending on our view of the world. But most importantly, try not to judge the situation. Instead dig into your feelings looking for the wisdom found therein.
So what is the wisdom from this experience. The obvious lesson was; don’t try to change nature. But when I thought about it a bit more, I realized the bigger lesson was one of resilience and perseverance. You can hit your head against a wall or window many times before you might find success, but it is important to keep trying if you really want to reach the goal. And boy was this robin a role model for reaching a goal in the midst of many obstacles or perhaps perceived obstacles.
So this fall, as I think about the deer already browsing the garden and the voles digging holes in my veg beds, I also think about the robin. Her lessons so vital to me….we can only do what we can do in our gardens after all we share the land with the critters.…and of course, don’t beat your head against the wall for too long, but keep working on the problem by getting a new perspective. Then we can work through the obstacles toward a solution.
Note: There is much animal symbolism surrounding the Robin. Their bright yellow beak stands for the sun’s rays. The white ring around the robin’s eye is symbolic of clarity, and great wisdom. When clear understanding is needed the robin is called upon.
Update in fall:
While this story started in early spring when the robin’s returned it did not end with the first nest in our tree. After a week of the robins laying the eggs, we arose to find some of the eggs pushed from the nest. It appears something was wrong with them so the robin’s destroyed them and started over.
This time they moved to my next door neighbor’s tree and within hours had a new nest, and a couple days later they were laying another clutch of eggs. She did not peck at their windows as they have a dog, but she flew for an occasional peck at our windows to make sure our robin in the window stayed at bay.
We never saw any fledglings, but heard there were some. And just this fall we saw lots of young robin’s still around our garden. It seems the robin is more than just a harbinger of spring here in our garden.
I am sharing this lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme. I hope you will join her. I am also linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week. And I am joining Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday. Please check them all out.
Also as the solstice approaches, please join me join in at my garden blog, Gardens Eye View, for my quarterly meme, Seasonal Celebrations, where you can find all the details for linking up to this celebration of the new seasons around the world.
I leave you with another thought about my garden lesson learned this year. Feel free to download the photo and share.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.