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Robin's eggsAlmost everybody knows what the American robin looks like. Robins are as familiar as pigeons and far more colorful.  People who don’t give a damn about birds can spot a robin in the city park or the suburban front lawn. Robins also have a nice burbling and trilling song, though a lot of people who recognize the bird wouldn’t be able to identify the song. Western robins are pale and drab compared to the richly colored Eastern robins and, in general, robins can be found, sometimes sparingly, throughout the United States all year round.

Children, some children, still listen to the story of how the robin got its red breast. Actually, there are a couple of stories about that. One story says that a robin, seeing Jesus on the cross with a crown of thorns, tried to pull the the thorns away and accidently pierced its own breast; hence the blood red breast. The more familiar story is that the robin, seeing two near-frozen wanderers who slept by a flickering fire, fanned the flames to keep the fire alive and thereby saved their lives — and the robin has had a fire-red breast ever since. OK, the robin’s breast is more orange than red, but these are stories with a nice moral at the end.

Robins aren’t sophisticated about real estate when it comes to building nests. They can build well, but they have no sense of location, location, location. They’ll build a nest just about anywhere, even five feet off the ground in a back yard patrolled by a cat. Or in the crotch of a branch that swings in a breeze and tosses wildly in a gusty rainstorm. Robin’s eggs are a beautiful shade of blue and, in fact, the color is known as robin’s-egg-blue. The photo above shows a clutch of robin’s eggs in a nest built between three outdoor lamps projecting over a backyard patio. As we said, robins are not sophisticated about location.

More Notes


Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.