By Maria Ditchek
The small wicker baskets on my porch wall make a wonderful display. I simply love them. They were purchased locally many years ago and add a certain country charm to a much-used space. It is a covered porch that faces my flower boxes. A very restful place as we not only enjoy our morning coffee there, but the afternoon snack, the occasional quick dinner as well as the company of friendly neighbors that drop by.
In early May my husband Jeff and I noticed that a robin was building a nest in one of the baskets. Knowing that our comings and goings would be disruptive to her and her presence would interfere with our daily routine, I asked Jeff to remove the basket before she wasted anymore energy on it. The robin quickly located another basket and began her work in earnest. That was too much for me – so all of the baskets were removed.
Among the brooms, rakes and paraphernalia that hang on the porch wall is an old iron shelf holding a toy metal truck that we had purchased at a garage sale for our son, as he liked toy trucks. Rusty and beat up, the truck, together with a small United States flag, makes a lovely vignette. Determined to use our porch, the robin took a liking to the truck and quickly began her third nest. Appreciating her perseverance and determination, we decided to leave the truck in place and allow her to share our porch. The mother robin wasn’t pleased with our comings and goings, even when we tried to be very quiet. She chirped and flew away every time the door would open or close. She never flew very far as she kept a close eye on the nest.
When several eggs found their way to the floor, we thought that was the end of it. Not to be; she kept coming back until one morning we peeked into the nest and saw five chicks. They were not pretty and made a constant racket. We called them “beggars” and diligently, even with our interference, the mother and father robins came back with bugs and worms to feed them. They were attentive to their needs, keeping the nest clean and orderly while scouring the property for food.
Daily we peeked at the nest to monitor the growing process of the little chicks. The babies were noisy, and the disruptions to them and us were many, but we all learned to share the space, we more than the robin.
Within weeks, they were ready to leave the nest and one morning we realized they were gone, with the exception of one last chick. I was disappointed. I had wanted to witness their first flight, as I had never seen that before; so with camera in hand, whenever I had the chance I would patiently sit and wait, hoping to catch the special event.
Finally, this last bird decided it was time. The mother would call to it while he stretched on the rim of the nest as if waking from a long sleep. He stretched his legs, his wings, timid at first but gaining confidence with every little move. After several minutes of stretching and chirping, and with the support of his mother, he found the courage to take that first flight. It was a very short one as he landed on our gravel path, the mother always watching and encouraging him. Within a few minutes he was hobbling around and eventually flew away. It was a very heartwarming experience for me.
We now have Cliff Swallows nesting in the high peaks of our home. This is the first year that we have sighted them – so here we go again – sharing our home with the birds and watching their progress – WHAT A TREAT! ~