Tag Archives: best friends

The Good Mom.

Dear Tom, I’ve been researching robins and robin behavior. According to the experts, after the babies hatch and grow a little, the mother robin no longer sits on the nest. Supposedly she will rest in a nearby tree during the day and spend the night in a nearby tree.


My mother robin loves to sit on her nest. If she’s not hunting for food and feeding the babies she’s sitting on the babies and grooming them. This despite the fact that those little suckers with their wide open mouths are getting huge. One will poke its head up under her wing and she’ll turn and give it a comforting scratch around the pin feathers. Down goes this head and up pops another one. She sleeps on the nest all night long. She’s such a tenderhearted soul, devoted to those babies. I’m sure she thinks they are beautiful. And they are, in her eyes.

She possesses the courage of a lion. I’ve watched her chase off ravens and crows and jays and other robins. Yet she doesn’t mind the swallows or the finches or the hummers or the towhees, or the crazy dog or me. When I water plants in the afternoon, she follows along behind and studies the wet places, digs for worms and bugs. Mr. Robin is equally interested in my activities. He waits all day until I clean out the birdbath– then he flies down and bathes in his clean water.

You know what excites him? He loves it when I turn on the garden hose. Right now I’m sprinkling the fruit trees. The second I turned on the water, before I could even move away, he flew right past my head and landed in the puddle, found a big worm and flew right by my head again, brushing my hair with his wing tip. No fear. We’re buds. We’ve been buds for four years now.

I think the pair like this yard because the dog keeps out all strange cats, squirrels and raccoons. It’s a good place to raise babies–as long as they aren’t run over by a dog careening through the yard with his basketball.

Click on the photo below to enlarge it. You can see Mrs. Robin standing on her nest, keeping a close eye on a pair of ravens. I called Bob the Plumber (also an award-winning bug photographer) but he’s too busy to snap some close-up photos. The best I can do is take a picture through my kitchen window.

A protective mama robin.

A protective mama robin.


Dear Tom, You will never belive what happened with the robins. Gives me hope for humanity.

drama queen

Oscar says Mrs. Robin is a drama queen. That may be… but still.

Two days after he vanished, Mr. Robin reappeared. He showed up at the nest and boy, did he get a scolding. Reminded me of you and Ish when you’d pushed a few too many of her buttons!

Here’s what I heard– “Where the hell have you been??? I’ve been worried sick. You couldn’t sing a note to let me know you were okay? You couldn’t make an appearance? I thought you were dead, you stupid bird, and now you show up like it’s no big thing? Well, it is a big thing. Now get crackin’, Robin-monkey! These babies can’t feed themselves.”

And boy, did he ever. He, in fact, took over feeding duties for the rest of the afternoon. She took a bath in the birdbath, smoothed her ruffled feathers, perched in a the maple tree, chased off a couple ravens…

Oh the humanity! (And the joy on my part!) The squawking was loud and long and Mrs. Robin was every bit as irritated as you might imagine.

I observed Mr. Robin for several days and I realized just what he’d been up to. He’d been enlarging his territory, driving away a few rogue robins because he needed more places to find bugs.

A robin’s territory can extend from one-third of an acre to several acres. Initially our robin’s territory consisted of our yard, one-third of an acre, and our neighbor’s yard, three-quarters of an acre. Now he’s driven off two other males and he’s claimed our yard, the yards on either side of our yard – so that’s one-third plus three quarters plus one acre, and he’s added one of the yards across the street, another one-half of an acre, and the yard of the home behind us, another one-third of an acre. He’s been a busy bird. Two other robin couples had to move to make room for him.

This has been so cool to watch. And he did it again. He scared the bejeezus outta me this morning. Here’s what happened~

Jake and I went out for a hike. When we got home I heard the weirdest keening sound coming from the backyard. We went outside to see what was going on and Mrs. Robin flew right up to us. She landed on the garden fence, a foot from me and began this awful keening chirp, just like she did when Mr. Robin left the first time around. But this time it seemed she was speaking directly to me.

I was really worried. She sounded so upset and she seemed desperate, asking a human for help, that I was afraid something had happened to her babies.

I asked, “What’s wrong? Do you need help? What can I do for you?”

She closed her eyes and continued to make that sad sound.

I reached out a hand. I said, “Here, c’mere. I’ll help you.”

She opened her eyes and looked into mine, but she didn’t fly off. I nearly managed to touch her belly. She began to cry once again.

I decided something absolutely horrible must have happened. I brought Jake in the house and she followed right behind, landing on the window ledge outside the kitchen window. I kept an eye on her. She didn’t approach the nest at all, not for two hours. And I knew it, I just knew it. Somebody came and killed her babies and she was distraught. I wanted to give her a hug.

And then, after two long hours, here came Mr. Robin. She flew up into the redwood tree after him and you have never heard such an argument, such squawking and flapping of wings, gnashing of beaks. She had a fit. He’d done it again. And then the storm passed and they both began to feed the babies like crazy.

This afternoon all is well in Robinsville.

I told Oscar the story. He said two things: Write it down and Mrs. Robin is a drama queen.

I don’t have many best friends, so to lose one is a big deal.

I’m picky. Particular. I am friendly with loads of people. I’m acquainted with (and related to) people all across this county, not to mention Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Israel, France, Scotland, Wales, Germany, England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan… Real people, not mere twitter icons.

In my life, aside from my husband, my children, my dogs, one of my cats, and my horses, I’ve had two best friends. Two besties, if you will. BFFs. Two people who have been a big part of me. Literally part of me. People with whom I am so connected it’s as if we share the same soul.

Cheryl died fifteen years ago. A million years before her time. She was only 37.

And now Tom Stronach, a man too alive to ever die, has passed away. 1/27/2015. Tom and I met five years ago online when he commented on some stupid post I’d made. I commented back and we fell instantly into an indescribably close friendship. Oscar and I visited Tom and his wife, Ishbel, two years ago. It was a scary thing to do yet it was a beautiful experience. Tom and Ishbel and Oscar and I share the same wedding date. We both have two daughters and one son and one of our daughters is named Jennie. We are soul mates. We will remain so even though he’s gone.

I can still hear him calling me a git.

Bye Tom. I’ll miss you forever. I’ll make sure to check on Ish for you.

Here is Tom’s site: Is It Me?

Here is his birthday ode to me:  Ode to Julia R. Barrett, the Birthday Girl

Here is a post about our visit. He was nice enough not to show me bum: Julia and Oscar

And now I must stop. I can’t see the screen anymore.