The King of Spring

American Robin

Have you noticed that Robins who make their homes in woodlands are far more timid than the suburban Robin? Several years ago, some digging in the garden resulted in a rather large pile of earthworm-rich soil. While on my hands and knees shoveling, I noticed a flurry of activity out of the corner of my eye, about five feet to my left – a Robin was rummaging through the mound of soil, filling it’s beak with night crawlers. Again and again he’d return, seemingly oblivious – or simply not bothered – by my presence. Perhaps the Robin’s need to feed it’s young trumped any fear of me. After awhile the supply of earthworms in the soil pile ran dry, so as I would uncover them during digging, I would gently toss the earthworms in the Robin’s direction. The Robin would immediately and fearlessly drop down from it’s perch in a nearby tree to scoop up my offerings. It was one of those odd and endearing little moments when you feel as if you’ve actually made a connection with a wild creature. I recall this particular moment with a mix of amusement and genuine fondness.

Robins are so ubiquitous that we often take them for granted, but witnessing their return every year never ceases to excite me, as they truly are the harbingers of spring…

The final three photos were created a few days ago, as I watched this particular Robin hop from branch to branch, gathering leaves for it’s nest. I chose to depart from the traditional approach in these photos, deciding not to use flash to open up the shadows and reduce contrast – I feel as if the rather stealthy, shadowy nature of these images best reflects the environment in which most songbirds spend the majority of their time. Even the Robin, so commonly seen on suburban lawns, does most of it’s work in the shadows – gathering food, evading predators, and working hard to raise the next generation.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology – American Robin

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