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Sunday, March 24, 2013


(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

Robins everywhere!

They've been around for a few weeks. But now that today is Palm Sunday, which typically marks the end of weather here Northern Virginia, I'm seeing even more of these beautiful birds, the harbingers of spring.

The song of the robin:

For some, however, the arrival of robin red breasts may bring a different message:
How dare the robins sing,
When men and women hear
Who since they went to their account
Have settled with the year! —
Paid all that life had earned
In one consummate bill,
And now, what life or death can do
Is immaterial.
Insulting is the sun
To him whose mortal light
Beguiled of immortality
Bequeaths him to the night.
Extinct be every hum
In deference to him
Whose garden wrestles with the dew,
At daybreak overcome!
Emily Dickinson


  1. My calendar says that it is spring.

    However, here in the D.C. area, we are expecting snow tonight and tomorrow.

    It is rare to have any snow here after Palm Sunday.

  2. Don't you hate that Global warming, AOW?

  3. American robins are thrushes, and nothing evokes spring like the American robin's birdsong

    Another singer with a beautiful song is the wood thrush.

    I've kept a life's list of the birds I've seen. Most of them were sighted when I lived in a suburb, west of Boston. My home must have been part of a migratory path, because I saw so many different birds each year during the fall and spring seasons.

    One year my daughter came running into the house after school, excited to report that she'd seen a pileated woodpecker while waiting for the school bus that morning. I told her she couldn't have. These are rare woodpeckers and I just couldn't believe any were in our neighborhood.

    A few days later, I saw one with my own eyes in our backyard (which abutted private property of over 75 acres of unspoiled woodland.)

    I apologized to my daughter for doubting what she saw. I've not seen the magnificent pileated woodpecker since that time in the mid 1980s.

    We always had bird feeders in our yard (and robber squirrels), and once, we even managed to get a chickadee to eat some birdseed out of my hand. This took great patience, because birds are so distrustful of us humans. But when, after days and days of standing by the feeder with the seed in my hand, the chickadee landed on my palm and took a seed. We were all thrilled by this brief contact with a wild creature.

  4. I actually didn't stand by the feeder night and day, of course. I took about a half hour or so each day, and stood by the feeder until the birds got used to me. This meant standing still and holding out my hand. A bit tiring, but it was well worth the trouble once we got the chickadee to trust me enough to nibble seed from my hand.

    Just wanted to clarify that.

  5. We've seen a few robins here, some cardinals, woodpeckers, I suppose spring is on the way, but you can't tell it by the weather. I'm so ready for warm weather, put the boots, socks, coats away...

    Right Truth

  6. Yup, it's Spring alright. It only got down to 24 last night.

  7. Shaw,
    Interested that you mentioned the Pileated Woodpecker! Just this morning, "my" Pileated Woodpecker reappeared.

    I don't have a bird feeder. I toss the bread and the seed and the peanuts onto the ground.

    This morning, the Pileated Woodpecker swooped down, nabbed a peanut, and flew away.

    I have a wooded lot in the back portion of my property as does my neighbor's property. That may account for the woodpecker's presence here.

    I've seen a thrush here, but not lately.

  8. Is it PILE-ated or PILLY-ated?

    I've always wanted to know for sure. My instinct tells me it's PILLY, but I've heard people say it both ways.

  9. FT,
    The second pronunciation you listed above -- more or less. See THIS. The i is pronounced as a long vowel. Click the speaker at the definition at the above link.

  10. Can't understand why they are called "robin red breast". Seem like "robin orange breast" to me.

    There's a small wetlands preserve and park near me and the robin population seems quite high this year. Nice to see.

  11. Spring has been delayed here, we had snow a day ago and the temperature is dropping slowly back to the 30's. And this is the South!

  12. In my area there are some robins, nice to view and hear, but the damned bluejays pick fights and yell at everyone.


  13. I generally have robins all winter here, and at work in Philly. For me the real harbingers of spring are the Red-winged blackbirds which were very late returning this year. It was Saint Patrick's day before I heard one, when they usually reappear by the end of February. Earliest record I have of them is February 11th. 2/24 last year but it was so warm last year that everything from star magnolias to dogwoods were in bloom at the same time.

    3-5 inches of snow up here in the hills tomorrow. Not good for our feathered friends. Me either.

  14. Viburnum,
    I haven't seen a red winged blackbird around my house in ages! I used to see them all the time when there were meadows and alfalfa fields.

    I woke up to find snow covering everything this morning. I won't be able to see how many inches until the sun comes up.

  15. Being from Florida, I don't have any snow to report, but I can tell you that it is unseasonably cool in my parts and my parts are feeling it.

  16. At my old house there used to be hundreds of Robin's in the Pecan Grove each spring. There were there for a day then gone.

    Where do they go? Do they head all the way up to the artic then start all over again? I don't seem them come back down in the fall.


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