Imagine my surprise when I came to water a hanging basket of flowers I had outside my kitchen window and found it had blossomed. Not really — but there snuggled in the leaves was a brown and orange mama robin sitting on four eggs in a nest she had built. A super Mother’s Day present for me and for her.
Robins seem to like being close to people and are probably the most recognized bird in our locality. Don’t we all look for spring when we can see that first robin? Their hop is familiar and the way they hold their head to “hear” worms and bugs in the turf that they can enjoy for dinner.
I remember when we had the cabin at St. Olaf Lake. We had a huge oak tree that had widespread branches close to the ground. Every spring we waited for the robins to build their nests and raise their babies, almost in the bathroom window. How exciting it was when we were able to see the first little birds each spring being fed.
Robins are almost ugly in their nakedness when first born, but it isn’t too long until one by one, with feathers attached, they sit on the edge of their nest for almost a day getting their bearings. And then, perhaps by the mother’s command, they would off for their first short flight – resting in the green grass before the next flight. This happened one day at a time with usually four or five total that “flew the coup” with lots of cheering from the sidelines for encouragement.
I don’t remember how many years we watched the same branch, same tree, and the same location and as kids we “knew” it was the same family even if the bird book tells us the same birds don’t live that long.
The saddest thing that ever happened was a mother bird who built her nest in a crevasse under the eaves trough. Smart bird – she was protected from the weather and other birds - but it had a bad ending. We had a severe thunderstorm with lots of rain. The eaves trough overflowed. The next morning my mother found the mother bird had drowned while protecting her nest.
It has been a memory of sadness ever since on Mother’s Day. The mother bird had stayed with her family, even giving up her own life.
We often had visitors at the patio door at the lake as the robins came to the door and peeked in as though to say, “Hello Neighbor.” Because our acreage at the lake was left basically wild, not only robins visited us, wild turkeys pecked at the glass doors to let us know they needed some corn, though they preferred acorns best. They didn’t just watch the movement on the television through the window; they sat on the roof and especially on the antenna.
My dad constructed many houses for the wood ducks and I still remember the loud scream they made as the baby birds made their debut. The sound was so high we thought it would kill them, but it didn’t. One of those little ducks adopted my dad and the ducks and geese were welcome visitors to the ponds we had out back. When fall came, that one wood duck wouldn’t leave.
Once, to my dad’s dismay, something happened when he went out to feed and give them some water. The wood duck jumped in the water pail. Dad pulled him out, dried him off and comforted him. He survived for a few more days but then he did it again. Dad wasn’t there to see it, but he was sure that is what happened when he later found him dead. It was one of the saddest times at the lake.
Dad spoke often about his favorite little bird. I will always remember those tiny ducks parachuting out of the trees. There were always a number of them floating down to the wildlife ponds Dad had made.
I still wonder about the wild turkeys too. The wilder the weather and wind, the higher they went in the cottonwood trees. Why didn’t they find shelter in the bushes instead?
Those were some of the good times at the lake. No wonder we loved it there.
Irish superstition says, “A wish made upon seeing the first robin in spring will come true. But only if you complete the wish before the robin flies away.” Hoping you have many wishes come true!
We always wish for a good planting year for the farmers. What would we do without them? It won’t be too long before we will see those rows of beans and corn appearing in the fields. Sorry to say, farmers don’t always get recognition for all their hard work.
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Birthdays and anniversaries:
• Thursday, May 18th: Blake Ihrke, Zachary Jacob Dau, Cory Bailey, David Farr, Arlene Busho, Arlene Cummins, Xan Johnson, Mandy Muri Johannsen, Charlie Hanson, Dan Schember, Hank Thompson, Carol Stohr, Roger Draayer, Kelly Krumwiede, Rod Serdahl, Dan & Val Schember, Sue & Dean Westrum
• Friday, May 19th: Christina Hill Berry, Madison Schweirjohann, Summer Schember Schultz, Mike Rysavy, John Oolman, Dawn Parks, Tim & Tiffany Hanson
• Saturday, May 20th: Oakley Baker, Kaye Schember Cady, Laureen Hohansee, Kathy Hanson, Hannah Ashton, Carrie Thorstenson, Penny Nordhorn, Haley Collins, Scott Stohr, Kevin Peterson, Kent Lageson, Josh Kelly, Virginia Jensen, Cynthia Butler, Jay & Marsha Neitzel, Ed & Camille Nelson, Hannah Ashton, Adam & Kristen Arends
• Sunday, May 21st: Bernie & Sue Swenson, 1977, Tony Dodge, Christopher Flim, Tom Wilker, Joel Cooper, Ryan Parks
• Monday, May 22nd: David Eliason, Christine Thompson Krause, Lori Lembke, Scott Dirksen, Pat Horan, Jim Obermoller, Michael Sarver, Roger Thompson, Andrew Grunwald, Karla Hanson, Dick Swift, Chuck & Susan Grubish, Toni and James Perschbacker
• Tuesday, May 23rd: Will Richard Utpadel, Ilsbeth Wayne, Jeanne Simonson, Melissa Shaunce, Orville Langlie, Karen Quam, Stephanie & Paul Marlin, their 8th; Jeff & Sara Miller
• Wednesday, May 24th: David Christensen, Reta Draayer, Nina Widlund
• Thursday, May 25th: Dakota Matthew Kath, his 13th: Riley Dean Disher, his 11th; Jack Harpel, Jackie Johnson Miller, Jim Pichner, Cara Christensen, Valerie Peterson, Richard Fetterly, Bill Nechanicky, Rick Miller, Deb Parks, Paul Reese, Troy & Kelly Utpadel, Dave & Barbara Van Gorkom
• Friday, May 26th: Jeff Wayne, Roger Wangsness, Natalie Hanson, Jim Cummins, Jennifer Beaber, Jeremy Beaber, Melissa Redmon, Karey (Kalakian) & Chris Shearman
• Saturday, May 27th: Eileen Bergland, Lisa Hanson, Steve Jepson, Shane Callahan, Stacy Wobschall, Rev. Beaber, Theresa Kasper, Rick Loven, Carolee Broitzman George, Tracy Marcus, Lisa Hanson, Steve Jepson, Michael Butler, Steve & Karen Quam, Megan & Joel Cooper
May you find joy and pleasure all around you on your special day!