An intriguing neighbor

I watched this year as the robin struggled to erect its nest on an angled drainpipe just beyond the bathroom window. I look forward to watching the entire process of hatching and fledging as it takes place.

Twice before a similar bird also chose an angled pipe on the other side of the house. As I watched that progress, I continued to marvel on what kept the nest anchored so securely that the young family could emerge and grow.

At other times nests have been built by birds who obviously read the manual and intuit that a tree is far superior to a drainpipe. If nothing else the extra protection offered by the thickening leaves should be worth it. (Besides, it makes for a far lovelier photograph. And keeps the mess off my deck.)

There are trees including a Japanese maple planted too much in the shade to color as it might close enough to the house that I still have my observation point, not to mention the availability of chances for good pictures. Now (after how many years?) it suddenly strikes me that, unlike other avian families, the robin apparently prefers to nest close to me. That’s fine.

I see the martin house full this season of barn swallows. That’s OK. The rhododendron shudders with countless house finches. I marvel at the found oriole nest but the pear trees aren’t close. And a new ceramic bird house hangs attractively from a nearby cherry but has no takers at all. (Same with past attempts to attract bats or bees when their habitats were placed out.)

It’s obvious birds nest all round here for I know they don’t commute terribly long distances to eat or, like some of the woodpeckers, to annoy.

I’ve read where to search for nests and even how to follow various families back to their hideaway bungalows. I confess to lacking the patience (or, sadly, time) to do so to date. Perhaps this will be that year.

I have no explanation for what makes the robin more sociable than any of its cousins (the phoebe perhaps being the nearest in that regard) but am very happy it has chosen my home.

I feel extra-good every time I pass that window and see her there. I marvel at her patience as she does sit hour after hour. I wonder if she gets annoyed by the nearby nattering of the chipmunk. I do. Does she ever envy the birds that fly by, carefree without the duties of a nest to tend? Or is she grateful for the opportunity it affords her just to sit and rest, knowing those days of leisure are limited indeed.

I’ll make even more trips as it becomes feeding time and hope to catch the tiny mouths (noisy as they are then) agape as the food returns. I’d love to see the moment the little ones leave home, a joy denied so far.

Perhaps it’s time for me to slow down and look more. I know it won’t be long before the young ones are pecking in the yard, their pale spotted breasts a giveaway to their young age.

Then it will happen all over again.

I’ll try to be ready … again.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to