Making friends with the robins in my backyard

Posted June 07, 2013, at 5:38 a.m.
A robin prepares to feed its chicks in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A robin prepares to feed its chicks in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A newborn robin chick cries for food in its nest in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A newborn robin chick cries for food in its nest in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A robin pauses with a mouthful of dried grass as it builds a nest in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A robin pauses with a mouthful of dried grass as it builds a nest in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
Working almost non-stop, a robin carries another load of mud to one of the three nests it built this spring n Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Working almost non-stop, a robin carries another load of mud to one of the three nests it built this spring n Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A pair of robin eggs remain in an abandoned nest built in a pile of brush in Freeport, Maine. About two weeks after giving up on these eggs the mother laid more eggs in a more secure location under the roof of a garden shed.
Robert F. Bukaty
A pair of robin eggs remain in an abandoned nest built in a pile of brush in Freeport, Maine. About two weeks after giving up on these eggs the mother laid more eggs in a more secure location under the roof of a garden shed. Buy Photo
Mud clings to the beak of a robin as it sings to its mate in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Mud clings to the beak of a robin as it sings to its mate in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
Born blind, a newborn robin chick cries in its nest in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Born blind, a newborn robin chick cries in its nest in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A nest-building robin holds a clump of muddy grass that its pulled from the photographer's lawn, Monday, May 22, 2013, in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A nest-building robin holds a clump of muddy grass that its pulled from the photographer's lawn, Monday, May 22, 2013, in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo

FREEPORT, Maine — Each spring, robins were my grandfather’s constant companion. He would toss worms to them while working in his garden. The birds would pick up his offering and fly back to their nest above the neighbor’s porch.  He’d swear it was the same couple that was there the year before.

I’ve had my own robin companions this spring, and truth be told, they’ve kept me from getting much accomplished. I had set out to do some work only to end up putting down the rake and picking up the camera.

Starting in mid-May they began gathering mud, grass and twigs and quickly built three nests in different locations.

My robins certainly are not camera-shy. It seemed they could hardly care less about the guy lying on the lawn with the telephoto lens as they pulled up muddy clumps of grass, sometimes just 10 feet away.

One nest, built on the shelf of my the woodshed, went unused. Two eggs were laid in the second nest, built in a brush pile, but for some reason they were abandoned.

The third nest, built under the roof of my garden shed, was the charm. It now contains three scraggly-looking chicks with an insatiable appetite.

It won’t be long now until the chicks are big enough to fly off. Maybe then I can get back to my yard work.

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