Fast Learners


This week’s photo, taken August 11, 2014 in our Northeast Seattle backyard, features a young AMERICAN ROBIN taking a bath.

Several days ago, four fledgling AMERICAN ROBINS made their premiere appearance in our backyard. Initially, they seem overwhelmed with everything, so they remain perched on top of the fence for a long time. Eventually, one by one, they parachute to the ground, from where they stare across the yard and attempt to make sense of this strange new world.

In order to photograph the young birds, I slowly slide open our bedroom window. Yet, the soft sound of the window frame shifting in its track causes the “Four Freshmen” to immediately fly back up to the top of the fence and scamper into the safety of the thick foliage that grows above our property line. Their parents have taught them well, and they have passed their first test: If you hear a strange noise, go to a safe place.

By the second day, the young Robins begin to explore their surroundings more thoroughly, and in doing so they appear much more relaxed than the day before. Nevertheless, their food-gathering skills are still quite poor. Maybe the early bird gets the worm, but the novice Robin is still wormless on day two.

It’s impressive how far they progress by day three. Now, they examine every corner of the yard with confidence, and one of them finds a worm in the grass and devours it like a kid eating a strand of spaghetti.

Just like young humans, young birds possess tons of energy, so they tirelessly investigate their world, making lots of mistakes along the way, but also learning rapidly as they go. By day four, one of our fledglings even figures out the purpose of that shallow water in the light blue pan.

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About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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4 Responses to Fast Learners

  1. Mary Friestedt says:

    Cute story , Joe. Sounds like Washington and retirement are really agreeing with you!! :)). Mary

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Chris says:

    I’ve never seen a Robin that young. Thanks!

  3. Connie Saunders says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your description of our harbingers of Spring.

    Connie Saunders

  4. jere mcinerney says:

    Hi Joe…just back from our yearly ranch visit, there was the most beautiful roadrunner on our porch, i’ve never seen one so large and so colorful, he actually flew into the brush…..we continue to miss you but your bird reports are some compensation….thanks for helping us be better observers of nature….

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