Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 6
MILL CreeK sTorIes
It Takes a Village
And especially when the
village is populated by four
tiny robins named John,
Paul, George and Ringo.
NaTure Is your XboX when you
grow up in the country. As a little
girl, I played with tadpoles and
frogs. I knew every chipmunk in
the yard. We were visited by deer, rabbits,
raccoons, waddling opossums and near-sighted
skunks. The groundhogs showed up every year when
the spring peas ripened in the garden. While I adore
the furry, I always had a soft spot for the birds and
their love stories. I watched birds flirt, build nests,
remodel nests, lay eggs and raise their families.
Robins are cheerful, industrious birds and always
seem to be nearby except in the coldest of months.
Here in the Shenandoah Valley where I live now, they
appear 10 months out of the year and will winter over
if they have a protected roosting spot and access to
food. Robins are pot-bellied, jolly creatures warbling
a pleasant melody. What's not to love?
Want to make friends with a robin? Dig worms to
use as fishing bait and leave the turned soil, still wriggling with escaping earthworms, for the robins to
feast upon. You'll have a friend for life, or at least be
best buddies while you have a shovel in your hand.
Want to make friends with a robin?
Dig worms to use as fishing bait and
leave the turned soil, still wriggling with
escaping earthworms, for the robins to
by Molly Dugger Brennan
The summer I was six years old, there was a robin's
nest clearly visible from our bathroom window. At first
the mama bird would fuss every time we'd peek, but
robins are generally tolerant of humans. Once she figured we weren't a threat, she begrudgingly accepted us.
My family marked the calendar from the day she
laid those beautiful sky-blue eggs until they cracked.
Baby birds, louder than you would think possible,
emerged and immediately demanded attention and
food, chop chop. We followed their progress, watching
them evolve from their tiny pterodactyl phase into
adorable fuzzy nestlings.
That year the Beatles were huge in the country and
in my heart, so naturally I named our little friends John,
Paul, George and Ringo. No better names for a foursome
than that, and the tiny birds were quite a quartet.
One evening as we were just sitting down to supper,
there was a hullabaloo coming from the bathroom.
We all ran to see what was happening. The mother
robin was throwing herself against the window,
screeching. She kept banging violently into the
window pane and making noises I didn't know
robins could make. Mama took one look and bolted.
My mother quickly reappeared carrying her pistol.
She lifted the window, aimed, and shot the head off a
black snake that had just reached swallowing distance
of the endangered nestlings. It fell, catching on a lower
branch, a headless tube of writhing muscle.
Mama nodded at the mother robin who was at the
nest counting her babies and said, "You're welcome."
They say that it takes a village to raise a baby.
Sometimes it takes a village plus one snub-nose Smith
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