A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Runaway Robins

Recently, I had another childhood myth shattered. At least once in our lives, we are told not to touch a bird’s egg or go near a bird's nest if we find it on the ground. We were given the reason that the mother bird would not return to the nest if she sensed that another animal had been near it. This is not true, since most birds cannot detect a human scent due to a limited sense of smell.

This begs the question then, why do female adult birds abandon their nests? There are probably several theories to explain this, but allow me to propose a few of my own. My theories may or may not stand up to the more accepted laws of the natural sciences discipline, but they should prove once again why the world should be grateful that I majored in history and not ornithology.

My first theory is relatively simple: mama bird goes out to search for food and falls victim to other predators. She becomes another sad statistic in the wildlife food chain. These other predators could include — but not limited to — cats, man, squirrels who are tired of eating nuts, and/or psychotic deer. I like to call this the Woobie Effect, after our late neighborhood cat, who was a very skillful hunter.

Of course, there are other events which could prevent our bird from returning to the nest. Mama could become the victim of an “accident”, such as flying into windows or into the path of an oncoming car. The term accident here should mean just that – an unforeseen event which causes trauma to one or more individuals. It should not be used if she becomes the victim of fowl play. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) She could meet up with of a couple of tough-looking blue jays from the wrong side of the woods. They would explain her disappearance afterward as, “Yeah, well you know, Mrs. Robin had an ‘accident’.” No, this is not what we mean by accident.

Then perhaps Mrs. Robin may find her role of motherhood unfulfilling. Let’s say for argument's sake that one day Mrs. Robin is sitting on her eggs eagerly anticipating the first chirping of her young ones. During the course of this day, let’s further say that she happens to look through the window of a human’s house nearby and sees one of those afternoon television shows (say Oprah) that is forever exploring women’s issues.

Our mama bird may reason, “Hmm, I’m suddenly not into this nurturing thing anymore. I sit here, fending off enemies, until these eggs hatch, and for what? I’ll have to listen to their incessant cheeping all day and night, I’ll have to go and find food for them, like some dirty, disgusting, squiggly worm. Then I’ll have to chew it up for them and spit into their bottomless mouths because the little buggers can’t even chew their own food! What’s in this for me? That’s it, I’m out of here!” Then, after making a mental note to look up a couple of tough-looking blue jay friends of hers, she flies off, never to return.

Please keep in mind this is all theory. If you are still at a loss to tell children that they shouldn’t disturb an abandoned bird’s nest, then tell them the truth. Tell them that touching the nest will transfer harmful bacteria to their skin which will make their arms fall off. Also, tell them if they do it too much, they’ll go blind.


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