“So there is also an alas in this song of tenderness. If we return to the old home as to a nest, it is because memories are dreams, because the home of other days has become a great image of lost intimacy.” — Gaston Bachelard, from The Poetics of Space

On the evening of June 11th, I noticed some strands of moss and grass in an elbow of the New Dawn rose growing around the window over our kitchen sink and venturing along the top of the front door. By mid-day June 12th, it was clear a robin was building a nest. We had guests for a few days and we were in and out the front door. John barbequed lamb one of the evenings of their visit and salmon the next; the barbeque is on the patio just down the stairs from the front door. In some ways it’s not a great place for a nest because of so much human activity in that particular area but in another way, it’s perfect. There’s a generous overhang of eaves to shelter a nesting bird and her eggs and there’s a birdbath hanging from the eaves. We watched from the window over the sink as the robin brought mud in her beak, worked it into the nest with her feet, then shaped the inner nest to the dimensions of her body. On June 13th,  she settled herself in the nest and so I posted this sign on the inside of our front door:

We stopped using that door. We stopped making much noise in the kitchen. When I was washing dishes, I’d sometimes see the robin watching me, alert but not exactly fearful. Sudden movement resulted in her flying away briefly but she always returned.

Assuming she laid eggs soon after building the nest, I expected to see hatchlings mid-to-late last week. The incubation period is, on average, 12 days from the time that the last egg is laid. She was very patient, leaving for brief periods to feed herself. We could hear males singing nearby and thought that one of them was no doubt her mate.

This morning I didn’t see her when I got up. And every time I looked out the window, she wasn’t there. In the woods, males were still singing in the rain. By noon, I suspected the worst: that she’d abandoned the nest for whatever reason. I waited another hour and then took a bench out to the deck below the rose and held the camera over the nest. I couldn’t see anything myself but the camera told this sad tale:

I don’t think the nest was robbed. There are no fragments of shell anywhere near. And when I reached my hand into the nest, after viewing the photographs on the camera’s small  screen, I could feel that the bottom of the nest was completely smooth, like a pottery dish: no remains of dead nestlings or shells.

In the meantime, there’s a male robin singing as I write this. Maybe the couple will try again – there’s still time! And just out the window of my study, I’ve been watching a house wren investigage this little house that Brendan (Brendan, who will marry Cristen in less than three weeks!) gave me two Christmases ago.


~ by theresakishkan on July 2, 2012.

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