Front Porch Drama

The weather is lovely, cool and bright. Showers roll through every third day or so, soaking the garden. Now that the landscape has dried out a little, the garden seems much happier and the mosquito population has declined noticeably.

Our front porch has been the site of considerable drama of late, as our neighbors’ cats have taken to sitting watchfully beneath the robin nest. The robins, of course, do not take well to these intruders, and vocally inform the world that trouble is afoot. Their chicks grow by the day, literally, and are nearly ready to fledge. I’ve broken my vow to stay off the porch, having taken to venturing on to the porch to dump water on the cats, much to the robins’ apparent approval.

This morning I sprayed cat repellent around the yard and porch, coming some four feet from the nest. The  parent on duty at the time, busily feeding its brood, simply ignored me which I took as a complement. Last night I had thoroughly sprinkled the porch with hot pepper flakes which seemed to have no impact on the cats, so I am somewhat dubious as to the value of this latest experiment. Yesterday I spoke with the cats’ owner (an oxymoron?) who is a sweetheart, and who was obviously pained at the though of trying to coral her charges. We agreed she would redirect them if she noticed them wandering towards our house. This entire effort is made more questionable by the simple fact that the felines have always had complete run of our yard and porch.

One of the robin parents just landed on the deck beside my office window, worm in beak. I think it is the female as she seems somewhat smaller than the other. Anyway, she looked in the window, then surveying the yard below, flew down to the nest. I’ve noticed both parents repeating this behavior, and am unsure as to whether they actually see me at the computer.

All of this is unfolding against the background of international threat and counter-threat, and frankly, our local drama seems much more real. I like to think that we can be a bit helpful to the robin family, and know that any aid we may offer will be limited. Fledging mortality is statistically high, with about one bird in four surviving on average. (There appear to be three young in the nest.) The greatest threats to fledgling robins are cats and raccoons, and we have both. We will do what we are able and try to trust the process.

11 thoughts on “Front Porch Drama

  1. I hope the robins will all safely fledge and it is lovely that you are helping them stay safe. A neighbour with a similar problem has strung a piece of string between two poles, about cat-height from the ground, and hung a metal cat-shaped silhouette from it that moves in the wind. It seems to keep the neighbourhood cats out of his garden without frightening the birds.

    1. Cynthia, one of the truly marvelous things about this adventure was that we developed some relationship with the parents. There were immensely sweet moments of mutual recognition.

  2. Our second sandhill crane colt never made it to adulthood, either. A neighbor reported seeing 3 coyotes in the area last week. I feel less chagrined about a possible furry predator than I do about the car that hit the other colt. Nature withholds any judgment. It is as it is. Us human beings get caught up in the morality.

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