Miracle of life

Newborn robin chick in nestMonday, there was one, new, baby Robin. We didn’t get to see the first poke into the world of breath-on-your-own, but it still wore a part of its shell like a hat.

Tuesday, there was another.

She laid them one each on consecutive days.

Fifteen days later, the first little one appeared.

We use our back door or garage to avoid disturbing Ms. Robin too much, but mostly that’s the human mother instinct of the Resident Gardener. One year we had a family of robins in the neighbor’s Holly tree. The mama raised a little noise the first time I stuck a pole-mounted GoPro over the nest, but she soon got used to me not doing any harm to her kiddies.

Another year, we had a nest in a Forsythia bush at the corner of our home, and one in another bush a few feet away. Clearly, robins – at least those congregating at our house – are not very concerned about human traffic.

House Sparrows chased away our pair of bluebirds, but the bluebirds came back this week, and have a pretty good start on weaving a new nest from White Pine needles. I get to watch as the Ms. sits in the entrance to the nest box, and Mr. takes up station on a garden pole several feet away.

I wonder whether birds enjoy the act of making more birds. It’s hard work, but I wonder whether they have a sense of pride after building a nest that doesn’t fall from where it’s mounted. It appears that the robin at our front door has used mud to glue her baby-basket between the brick wall of our house and the grapevine wreath.

We humans like to think we’re at the top of the intelligence and feelings chains, but I wonder what, exactly, is the difference between a robin’s instinctive need to protect its offspring, and the same urge in a human parent.

I remember well the day our son was conceived, when two single cells began multiplying and dividing their way to fingers and toes and stomach and nose.

And the day I walked in the house and she said “Guess What!” and I said “You’re pregnant!” and the look on her face because I suddenly knew what I didn’t know she’d been waiting all day to tell me.

And the day about nine months later when a little version of me came sliding on one knee into the breath-on-your-own world, a cigar in one hand and a glass of Knob Creek in the other. He embarked on his own version of the journey with which we’re all familiar but never think about until we’re watching our own birds get wings and learn to fly and make their own copies of themselves.

We learn to talk, so do birds.

We learn to walk, they learn to fly.

We were enthralled when our son took his first steps. First, he grabbed the edge of the coffee table and stood up, wobbling, struggling to become used to doing one thing adults around him did so easily. Tired at the new effort, he plopped down on his diaper landing pad. Everyone laughed.

He needed a few tries to get the part down where you put one foot in front of the other. We coached him a little, like a mama robin probably coaches her offspring. “Just jump off and flap your arms, er, wings, like crazy,” I imagine her saying. And the kid robin replying, “Yeah, right, Mom. That’s real easy for you to say.”

These are things I think of while watching a pair of robin offspring illustrate the miracle of life.

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