“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
and never stops at all.”
–  Emily Dickenson

This Earth Day and Easter my gardening helper (aka my hubby, Bob) found a most wondrous gift.  Can you see her in the picture above?  Actually it all started about 2 weeks ago.  As I was writing, I noticed through the window a robin hanging around the dwarf willow tree in the front garden right off the front porch and next to the front walk.  It hopped onto the willow and then very quickly ducked under some branches and voila there it was, a nest.  We had not noticed it before.  The garden helper wanted to remove the nest if there were no eggs, but I was firm.  It was staying even if it meant we couldn’t use the front door or porch for a while.  After all, when would we get a front row seat like this again.  So we watched the robin as it hung round the nest, but it did not stay long nor were there any eggs.  At one point the bird was doing an interesting dance almost.  It would push its body down into the nest and it moved in a clockwise direction.  It was forming the nest to its body…now this was getting interesting.  Then the hubby scared it a few times using the front door.  A week or so passed and no robin.  I was becoming very disappointed.  After all I was so hopeful, the robin would nest here in my garden.  We concluded we must of scared it off.

Then I spotted it again, but it looked like the male was always visiting the nest.  That didn’t make sense.  I was confused since I had thought the male and female were vastly different in appearance.  How wrong I was.  What self-respecting Audubon Society member didn’t know the difference between the male and female robin.  Well I was in the Audubon Society about 40 years ago so cut me some slack.  Time to get out the bird books and get on the internet for a few facts.  I found males and females were almost identical, but the female is a little bit duller in her tail feathers and her breast.  So this was the female.  But would she stay?

Earth Day was the first nice day of the spring after our one warm day a couple of weeks ago. I had it off so what a great time to clean up the garden.  I was clipping back the Endless Summer hydrangeas on the other side of the walk trying to keep far away from the robin, but then I saw her take off and she didn’t come back.  I wondered….should I peek?  So I took the camera and leaned in for a shot of the nest from above.  And there they were, three beautiful blue eggs.  After we celebrated, we waited patiently for her return, but she did not come back.  I checked all day, and she still stayed away. Of course, I thought I had been too close, scared her away, and she abandoned her eggs.  But maybe she would return tonight.  After all it was going into the 20s and she had to sit on those poor eggs.  But she did not return.  I was crushed and felt awful.  Now these poor babies would not have a chance.  Then my husband called me.  She was back.

In her absence I had been reading about nesting robins.  They laid 3 to 4 eggs; one egg a day.  And here is the fascinating fact.  They actually leave the eggs exposed to the elements as they lay each egg so the eggs will stay cool until she is done laying; then all the eggs will hatch about the same time.   So she wasn’t abandoning the eggs she was doing what all robins do.  She was on the nest a long time when she came back; then she was up and gone again.  Could it be?  Did she lay one more?  So I hurried out and snapped another quick picture, and yes there it was a fourth egg; a full clutch.  She is now on the nest full time only taking short breaks.  She rotates around the nest a few inches every so often and she even rotates the eggs.

We keep a safe distance, and wait in a silent vigil with her in hopes that the eggs will be viable and we will have babies soon.  I couldn’t help thinking that this wonderful gift came on such important days; Earth Day and Easter.  Since we have stopped the use of any harmful chemicals, we have seen more wildlife in the gardens.  I take this as a sign that we are doing the right thing as stewards of this land; this land we are merely inhabiting for a short time.  And what better Easter gift than the gift of new life; brightly colored eggs in a nest symbolizing Spring as well.

Our spring has been a bit bleak and delayed this year.  Very wet with 7 inches of rain in April with cold temps.  Bulbs are growing, but no trees have leafed out and no natives or perennials have bloomed.  Birds have yet to start nesting in the houses out back, and a few sluggish frogs have found the pond which is not showing off its wonderful water lily.  But this wondrous bird is trusting that this is a safe place for her and her babies.  I intend to honor that trust.


“Poor indeed is the garden in which birds find no homes.”
–  Abram L. Urban

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52 Replies to “Gift”

  1. Donna – Beautiful blue eggs and interesting robin facts. Robins are the friendliest birds I’ve come across in the garden. Whenever I dig or de-weed a patch of earth, I’m almost always rewarded by a robin twittering beside me waiting to scratch about for a snack.

    1. I agree they seem so friendly. I have never had them beside me but would gladly share whatever I found with them. They sure are good at finding insects and worms and aerating a patch of earth or grass to get them.

  2. Very sweet image. I have a bit of a problem here with the robins and their nest. I think a pair of starlings moved to my yard. They are black with blue iridescence. They are now attacking every bird and squirrel that comes into the yard and driving them off. But what they did really irked me. They destroyed a robin’s nest, bit by bit. It went on for days. I am sad because this nest was right outside my office window, and I look forward to the robin family each year.

    1. sounds like a grackle actually…that is awful…I stand for no bird bullying..I have tree swallows that bully every year and take the bluebird houses before the bluebirds are ready…I tell them that they have to play nice or I will throw them out…I have taken houses down a couple of times when they attack us…of course before the eggs are laid…I won’t destroy a nest…I hope the robins build another nest soon..I discovered they will lay up to 3 broods so perhaps they will…

  3. How exciting! It’s good of you to give the robin her space but I do hope you will update when the eggs hatch!

    1. I absolutely will be updating our new family…I will add updates to my weekly blog as they become available or I will throw in a quick blog update…this is a big event here and we are proud godparents (unofficial of course)…wonderful of you to visit the blog..thx!!

  4. Donna, what a great photo of the robin on her nest. I appreciate how hard that is, as I’m still struggling to get sharp pictures of the cardinals! A charming story, too. I look forward to watching the progress of the nest!

    1. Thx Sheila I love your cardinal story. The robin’s nest is perfectly positioned right in view of the window on the side of the front door so I can take pictures…isn’t nature a wonderful gift….

  5. How neat that she did come back, and the eggs are so pretty! Our Spring has been delayed too and I’ve noticed the birds don’t seem to want start nesting yet although I’ve got several birdhouses with birds interested in them. I love the sound of baby chicks when the parents arrive with food for them. Enjoy watching the eggs hatch and seeing the babies.

    1. Catherine you are right the birds are just starting to want to nest and I thought it seemed late as well…I can’t wait to hear the baby birds and watch them…

  6. So awesome Donna…you were indeed blessed this Easter and Earth day! I can imagine your excitement and enthusiasm as you were rewarded with a capture of the nest with eggs in it as I feel those things and they aren’t in my yard! Looking forward to seeing them hatch along with you.

    1. Thx Cat…I am like an expectant grandparent here and we have no children…I will definitely keep people posted…

  7. She is indeed a gift and on a special weekend too. How very beautiful are her eggs. I find it interesting about the eggs too. I did not know that! I’ve been watching the eagles in Decorah and their eggs actually hatch a few days apart. Our bird friends are most interesting. Looking forward to hearing about your views on the babies.

    1. Tina indeed nature is a gift that we are sometimes privileged to I would love to see baby eagles..we have eagles across the street at the lake and sometimes we see them flying high overhead…I will keep everyone posted on how the babies are doing…

    1. Katarina so happy that you could visit today and that you loved the story..robins are clever birds…I will keep you informed as the story continues

  8. Hi Donna,
    The birds are keeping me inspired too right now as we experience this late spring. I did not know about the egg cooling, how interesting!

    1. Heather I was so excited to hear your news about being a contributor to the new website..I love it and will visit often…when we are given these gifts I know it is for a reason…this one has helped me become more in tune with nature and to continue to learn and look as I walk about…glad you could visit…

  9. Delightful story Donna, we are so lucky here to have birds nesting in the garden every Spring, even if I think at times we could be more green, we must be doing something right. Beautiful as the American robin is, it is a completely different bird from the British robin.

    1. Alistair if birds are nesting then you are doing the right thing ….glad you enjoyed the story…the British robin is very beautiful and I would suspect that when the British first came and saw this red-breasted bird they called it a robin…my husband and I love your robin even more…

  10. Awesome! I have seen many nests around the yard–wren, cardinal, cowbird, etc., but I have not seen a Robin’s nest. They must be nesting in the woods. I learned a lot from your post. Such beautiful blue eggs. Thx for sharing.

    1. They nest 5-20 feet up in trees that are well protected like the gnarly multi-branching dwarf willow in my front yard…They will nest in well established bushes that offer protection as well…glad you enjoyed it…

      1. My robin family has chosen to build their nest on the top of my porchlight right beside the front door. I got up on a ladder today just for a quick peek and didn’t linger. Their are three beautiful blue eggs! I read recently that the mother robin will not abandon the nest if there is not constant interference near the nest. I hope she forgives my quick peek.

        1. Good to know Kathryn…we are staying away to give her space in hopes that perhaps on Mother’s Day we may see the babies…they are due just about then…thx for visiting the blog

  11. How interesting! I’ve never seen a robin’s egg in a nest before – they are so pretty. Isn’t mother nature a wonderful thing? Sounds like a good mother, after all.

  12. Donna. You had me on the edge of my seat worrying with you about whether Mother Robin would return! I am so relieved, and excited for your witness to such a simple but rare glimpse of life come to life in the spring!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the suspense. I have to say I was really worried and heartbroken until I saw the fourth egg…she is on the nest in the pouring rain with thunder and lighting overhead and she is not even flinching…talk about a wonder mom…hope to play with the movie portion of my digital camera so when they hatch I might get some video…stay tuned

  13. What a gift! I love birds just as much as gardening, these little sightings are such a joy! What a beautiful post. Looking forward to seeing the follow up on this. Cheers Julia =)

    1. Julia I am with you about birds and gardening…I think it is why I garden sometimes so I can glimpse these rare sightings…will be keeping folks posted!!

  14. Hi Donna, thanks for visiting my post leading me here. That is a lovely post about the robin, and the eggs are so beautiful You found them very timely for the Easter eggs, very colorful and will be the real symbol of hope as they will hatch later. I wonder if we also have birds with blue eggs! The Oriental magpie robin hasnt showed us their birds yet, nor their nest, but they roost on our eaves for a few years already.

    1. Andrea I love your blog and am so happy you had a chance to visit this special post…I will hopefully keep everyone updated as they hatch and grow…what an interesting bird your magpie robin is…

  15. Awww, so cute! What a wonderful story. I didn’t realize they leave the nest and all so the eggs will hatch at the same time. Learned a lot and enjoyed this post very much. Thanks, Donna!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post…will keep you posted on how they are all doing..I learned a lot myself..nature sure teaches us at the most teachable moments…

  16. Wonderful photos and what a joy to be godparents to this little Robin family! Looking forward to the next installment in the Robin story 🙂

    1. Christine I was so fortunate that my first photos came out so well…it was meant to be to tell their story…I certainly will be keeping you apprised of how it all turns out…

  17. The robin has given you the surest promise of spring. The eggs are beautiful, Easter eggs in the truest sense. I look forward to hearing about the babies!

    1. Deb that is exactly how I felt when we saw the eggs and even when we saw the momma building the nest…I will definitely be updating their progress…

    1. Carolyn I definitely will keep folks informed…it is such a gorgeous color and I was so happy to capture it…

    1. Ha, Ha…actually if I could I would…I am leanring to use the video side of the digital camera so I can take some video and put together then an update in movies instead of just stills…hope I can get the hang of it…

  18. Donna, gorgeous pictures! A great story, too. I love watching the birds nest. When my kids were small, we’d hope for a nest somewhere in our yard so we could watch the family grow. We got lucky a couple of times. Looking forward to shots of the newborns.

    1. How wonderful the experience of nesting birds and watching them care for a and rear their young…sharing those with your children is fabulous and they will remember that forever….I will post updates as they come in…

  19. What a gift indeed! Yes, I was also on the edge of my seat, hoping that the momma would return to the nest. How fascinating that her time away is actually part of the whole plan and process!

    You’re so lucky to have them there. I can’t wait to hear about them hatching! I haven’t seen those blue eggs since I was a little girl and Robins built a nest on our porch. I’ve always hoped I’d have another chance…at least I can live vicariously through you on this one for now – ha!

    Keep us posted!

    1. Aimee I am so happy you liked the post…I hope to keep folks updated…momma is still on the nest even through the rough storms we have had; heavy rain, wind, hail…poor thing…she is a trooper…

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