Carrying motherhood too far

Two weeks ago I wrote about the joy I was getting as I watched a robin nest just outside the bathroom window.

It was easy to watch her progress as I could check quite frequently. This time she drew added attention, however, for the house was being painted and my conscientious and obviously nature-loving painter insisted on not moving the nest until the kids had fledged.

What we failed to comprehend was that this was not destined to be as simple as one might imagine. You know: build nest, lay eggs, hatch the kids, feed them albeit constantly (or so it seems) until they’re on the ground and on their own. Simple, right?


Something “seemed” odd this time for, while I’d be positive and relieved that all had flown the coop one day, the very next Mother Robin was back, sitting in total resignation and about to do it all over again. This was definitely a new experience for me if not for her.

I imagined she must have laid one egg that was infertile or had some other excuse for not developing. I have suspected the geese might do this. While I know all the eggs hatch simultaneously I really do it seemed the best excuse. Why else would any bird sit on an empty nest? (Obviously if she were a human, grabbing an extra day’s rest after the baby’s popped doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all. My mother had two whole weeks of hospital care, the norm back then.)

Still, days passed and the robin continued to sit. Eventually it became obvious there was more involved than just a lazy or tired bird. It was also obvious that she was growing increasingly active. Then, two days later, Dad was back, taking turns as I counted two or three little beaks stretching above the edge of the nest.

Well, that was a surprise.

Now I just had to get those kids fed and grown and the nest safely moved and the last smidgen of the house painted. (By now the painter had left, moving on to other projects with a promise to return once I gave the “all clear.”) A simple process, right?

Wrong. Would you believe it?

Without taking a single day’s vacation off the nest, Mother Robin resumed her apparently summer-long occupation. I waited. The painter waited. And I watched the cycle repeat … yes, yet again.

This time, I can happily report, enough was truly enough. The robinettes hatched, got fed (both parents as conscientious the third time around as they’d been so very many weeks earlier for the first), grew larger and spent more time looking out at the world (which pleased me of course). Finally they disappeared.

This time the nest remained empty. It was moved and the painting project satisfactorily completed.

I don’t know if she’ll come back to the same place this year or not. I’ll keep my eyes open. In the meantime, the questions remain, notably how that robin ever managed so often to get impregnated. (Do birds get “pregnant”? Why not?) She never seemed to leave the nest.

Did she wait till the little ones were sleeping and then hurry off for a late-night rendezvous?

She’s not talking.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to