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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An avian tale

The short story, as tweeted by my husband:

We had a nest of 4 robin eggs in a waist high bush. One of our children was a little too curious and now there are 3. #lifelesson

The rest of the story:

Ever since we discovered the robin's nest near our front door, we've been very careful to avoid using the front door as much as possible. We didn't want to disturb Mama Bird. We were especially pointed in telling Robbie to stay away from the nest, that if the Mama Bird smelled human on the nest she would abandon it and the babies would die.

Last night, Mike and the boys were heading out to get supplies for Charlie's roller coaster project for school. Robbie said he would wait in the car. I didn't even notice when he went out the front door. A minute later, he came inside wailing hysterically.

"I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to! I'm so sorry!"

It didn't take long to figure out what he didn't mean to do. He had gotten curious about the nest, reached it and picked up one of the eggs and crushed it. I think he just didn't realize how fragile the eggs were and he didn't know his own strength. (Grapes of Wrath, anyone?)

He was SO upset. Almost inconsolable, really. We talked -- once I could get him to quiet down -- about how he did mean to go over to the nest and reach in and how that was disobeying what we'd told him about staying away. I told him I know he didn't mean to hurt the baby bird, but that disobedience has consequences and there was nothing we could do to help the baby bird now.

I told him I didn't know if the Mama Bird would come back to take care of the other eggs or not. Mike and I decided that if she didn't come back by morning, we'd call the DNR or a local nature center and see if they could take the eggs and incubate them until the birds were ready to hatch.

But within about 10 minutes, Mama flew back to the nest, poked her head in and ATE THE CRUSHED EGG! I couldn't believe it. So much for grief and being fearful of human smell (grubby, little boy, human smell at that).

Once her snack was over, she flew off, only to come back a while later and take up her perch over the remaining three eggs. 

Now, that is a life lesson.


Ellen aka Ellie said...

Poor Robbie!

But eating her young? Oh Robin!

Anonymous said...

Birds don't have a sense of smell; that's why you often see cat or dog hair in their nests. But they do clean out their nests to avoid attracting predators who can smell; you'll notice that after they hatch, there will not be any feces in the nest. So, yes, she had to get the broken egg out to avoid advertising the presence of eggs to those who would feast on them, like squirrels.

Unknown said...

Very interesting info from Anon! Poor little guy. These I told you so moments are rough on everyone. Hopefully he can watch the remaining robins hatch. Have you seen the eagles I've been talking about on my blog? They might be a safe alternative for Robbie. My girls love checking in on the eaglets! I linked to this site in my post for today! Hope it can help!

Mrs4444 said...

Whew! Crisis averted! Thanks goodness; I'd hate for your poor kid to be traumatized :)

Jessica McCoy said...

Poor Robbie! Our little nest of swallows has hatched four or five baby birds. One got kicked/pushed out though recently ... sadly we didn't find him until it was too late though. :(

Beth Zimmerman said...

Oh My Goodness! I so didn't see that coming! Do you ever watch old reruns of The Andy Griffith Show? There's one where Opie (Ron Howard when he was little and adorable) had a slingshot. He took aim at a bird and killed it. Broke his heart! It's a precious story, very well done, and your story reminded me of it ... until the mama bird came back!

Annie said...

She ate it?! That's weird...but understandable from what anon. said. Poor Robbie, hope he learned to listen a bit better. :)

Bethany said...

Ew, she ate it? I mean...I guess that's what they do, but still!!!!

Life lesson, indeed :)