One spring, I rhapsodized about a symbol of the season, the robin. My heart swelled with joy, until I noticed the bird’s hunting habits. The robin hopped across the newly green lawn, pausing every few feet to stab into the earth with its beak.
Stab, stab, stab. Finally, it struck gold in the form of a juicy earthworm. Here began the horror. The robin jerked and wrenched until the hapless worm, clinging for life to its earthen home and stretched to the breaking point, released its hold.
If you make a study of robins, you will have to agree that their worm-extraction methods are brutal.
This July, I prepared to exit the back door to do some garden weeding and harvesting. I had my hand on the knob, the door barely cracked, when I noticed a baby robin right outside. You would think cuteness, rainbows and teddy bears, right? No, the angry creature was perched on the arm rest of our patio furniture, its mouth gaped open in raucous chirping.
I stepped back inside, emitting a gasp of terror. My nearby husband ignored me. He no doubt remembered the Dragon on the Deck and the Wolverine under the Woodpile incidents, which I may never live down if I live to a hundred. This, after my discretion in his Redneck Electrical Failure fiasco.
I was on my own as I stared out the glass window on the door, watching. I hoped the glass was thick enough. A mother robin arrived, a fat worm dangling from her vicious beak. She tore it in two, jamming half the worm down her child’s maw. The baby robin gulped, then opened its beak wide for the other half.
As I locked the door, the baby turned at the sound. It glared at me through the glass.
“I’m going the long way,” I told my husband. “The robins are still there.”
He ignored me.
I went upstairs to the deck, carrying a knife. To harvest vegetables, not robins. Seriously, do you think a mere knife can match a robin’s beak and claws? As I stepped outside, a robin flew onto a railing. The feathers on its head stood up like a rooster’s comb. The bird glared at me, hatred in its beady dark eyes. I brandished the knife as I hugged the side of the house. I made the stairs with no incident.
What did I get for risking my life? One undersized tomato.
My middle granddaughter suffers from a bird phobia. She may be on to something. Perhaps some instinct is awakened in her that lies dormant in the rest of us. A memory that birds are really just feathered dinosaurs. Terrible lizards.
Maybe next time robins threaten me in the backyard, I’ll tell my husband a dinosaur is attacking. That might get him off the easy chair.
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