...for we are surrounded by nests - on downspouts and under soffits, on stone window ledges and under porch overhangs. There is much coming and going as preoccupied parents arrive with caterpillars and bugs and then hurriedly depart with the avian equivalent of Pampers in their beaks. I stand at the window with my camera, waiting in vain to catch the feeding but the parent must see me and fears my attention. The minute I give up, the robin lands, to the frenzied applause of four upthrust beaks.
One group has fledged and we see them in the front garden, following a parent around, flapping wings, and claiming imminent starvation. I got video of the day that the mourning doves refused to feed; they simply turned their beaks away, to the utter amazement of their babes, who were capable of flying but clearly needed motivation! In fact, all parent birds practise tough love and generally it's “Learn to find food or starve, Honey.” Indeed one might have, as I found a small robin corpse on the driveway this morning, still achingly beautiful but cold and limp. Perhaps that's why the parent was feeding another baby robin on the grass this afternoon, demonstrating the byzantine art of locating a worm by sound and then ripping it to bite-size shreds. Thrushes are beautiful but lethal hunters.
I have finished the colour foundation on the thriving baby robin and at last get to work from the full palette. This stage is always exciting. I am particularly happy to lay on the patchy alizarin/stile de grain mixture which approximates the rich colour of a robin's breast, although this little gal is still upgrading from pinfeathers to business suit. They grow up so fast, don't they.
Back outside the raccoon has once again demonstrated her superior intelligence by detaching the expensive and full peanut feeder for access to delicious high-protein; it took three years for this to happen but this new generation has been eating its brainfood. Now the primates are up to bat.