Return of the prodigal child?

Regular readers of this blog will know that for eighteen months or so we made a close acquaintance of our garden robin – a relationship cultivated and maintained by a steady supply of live mealworms – you can read about it here.

Our Robin, as she became to be known, stayed on her breeding territory in the garden right through to early spring this year, when one day she disappeared to be replaced by a more wary individual.

Fast-forward to recent days, where a perhaps braver and certainly more conspicuous individual has been seen around the garden, approaching and taking an interest in our activities. Again this morning it was on-point in the garden and sang from the Ash tree as we sat in the warm sun and drank coffee. A second bird could be heard not too far away, in fact notably closer than the usual distance I would associate with the territory boundaries that the local robins take up.

The garden bird descended to the shadows of the honeysuckle so I thought I’d try my luck with dried mealworms. The bird came down to the bush next to me, so I tossed a couple of worms onto the ground. These were almost immediately inspected and though it is far too anthropomorphic I recognised almost disappointment in the bird that they weren’t alive!

Next I tried an outstretched hand, to which the bird took up an inspecting position on a low branch. We both sat for some moments in contemplation – the robin considering its next move, the watcher considering the possibilities of the situation, eyes fixed on the eyes of the bird.

Then with a speed that caught all by surprise another robin flew into the scene, wings spread and legs extended, bowling the first off the branch and into the air before the pair shot up the garden at close quarters and disappeared over the hedge.

So, two observations. Robin territories are up for grabs and after a summer of moulting, feeding and plastic song the birds, both male and female, are singing and establishing their winter territories. The second, more romantic perhaps, was that the confiding bird was the offspring of ‘our robin’ with a memory of us and the constant stream of mealworms – the prodigal child returning for the fatted mealworm!

juvenile robin – spring 2017

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