The Early Bird

Write me how many notes there be
In the new robin’s ecstasy
Among astonished boughs; Emily Dickinson

We live in Southeastern Virginia, on a little finger of the Lafayette River, which provides a micro-climate of warmth to our backyard which faces South and faces water.  Winter in our region is rarely really cold.  We have temperatures in the 40’s and sometimes the 30’s and in a terribly harsh winter for a few weeks there might be a few days in the twenties.  So, we have Robins year round.

In winter, they shelter in the hedge rows.  We have a boxwood hedge on one side of the front yard, and an old rickety fence in the backyard made out of something that looks like really thick chicken wire that is overgrown with ivy.  So many birds shelter in it year round we don’t have the heart to tear it down.  We can count on an enormous flock of robins or cedar waxwings (depending on who gets there first) descending on our American Holly and stripping it of red berries sometime in late January, and then bedecking our cars, sidewalk, driveway, etc with lovely purple spots.

In the Spring, the Robins move to nests that they build in trees.  We’ve seen nests in the Holly, or our overgrown Ligustrum on the sheltered East side of the house.  It is narrow there, so harder for the Cooper’s Hawk that visits occasionally to navigate.  Sometimes, we’ll have a nest on one of the brackets that accent the roofline of our Craftsman Bungalow.  They are pretty popular nesting sites, this year the finches and sparrows seem to be getting the best ones.

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We were excited to see Robins chosen as a topic for the Outdoor Hour Challenge for April.  This topic was easy for us to work in!  We strove to be more observant of our Robins, watching their movements and habits much more closely than usual.  We usually focus on the feeder outside our kitchen window, so we made a point to look around more in the yard, and watch for robins in the bird bath.  If we didn’t see many, we watered some flowers or herbs in the yard, and it didn’t take long for them to show up!

As I sat outside the mornings of Easter Weekend, a Robin kept me company, coming around the corner of the house around 6 AM each day.  He sings beautifully!  We watched together as the full moon slowly set in the west while the morning sun was busy gilding the leaves on the trees as he rose in the east.

Here are a few photos, and there are one or two from last year since we haven’t located a nest just yet…Last year we were studying Flying Creatures (Apologia) and Grace was observing a Robin’s nest in the Holly tree.  She had to wait for mom to fly off, and then set up a step stool under the branch in order to get the photo of the nest! We were stunned at the rich beautiful blue of the eggs!

Quote is from #39 “Bring me the sunset in a cup” by Emily Dickinson, in Emily Dickinson Complete Poems, Part Two:Nature

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