American Robin

Mommy Robin: “Oh this is lovely!  There is nothing like a morning bath when it is already 80 degrees.”

Baby Robin “Mom!  What are you doing?  Can I get in?

Mommy Robin “Could I just get five minutes peace to enjoy my bath?”

Baby Robin “I’m bored…”

Mommy Robin “If I have to get out of this bath, you are in so much trouble!!”

Don’t you just feel for poor Mother Robin? I think she might have been using some bad words…  This video was taken one morning after the Raccoons had used the Pyrex bowl as a swimming pool.  To the US readers, the American in the title is redundant.  The Brits are more familiar with the iconic European Robin which is a much smaller, cheekier bird, part of the flycatcher family.  I imagine the early settlers were delighted to find their own red breasted bird in the New World.

The American Robin is really part of the Thrush family and they have the same gentle nature although they are not quite as shy.  Our Robins used to migrate but some decided to stay here all year.  I am delighted because they are such sweet birds.  Like the crazy lady that I am, I love to chat to them in the undergrowth when they are rooting about for worms.  One day I stopped my car to allow one to dip a worm in the savory puddle water at her own pace.

Mom and Dad Robin look very similar except the female has slightly lighter coloring.  The males have a more vivid red breast and the females a rusty color.  They look after their babies equally and have up to three clutches a year.  The juveniles have a speckled chest but don’t seem to leave the nest until almost full grown.

Robins are songbirds which is delightful… except they sing at daybreak.  Still, they cannot be as bad as the current cicadas which are so loud that Teddy ran through the house looking for a plumbing break.  Every night I think, ‘will one of our many night critters eat that bloody cicada?’.  In truth, the cicadas were the reason why we bought this house.  We were enchanted by their alien song when we moved here 17 years ago.  I have been wondering if these particular cicadas are on a 17-year cycle because they sound different from the summer cicadas.  If I wasn’t so creeped out by their appearance, I would research it…

Ne’er cast a cloot ’til May is oot

The title is the Scottish version of an English phrase “Ne’re cast a clout till May is out” or in plain English – “Never take off a layer of clothing until the end of May”.  It is an archaic phrase, probably from medieval times, and there are similar phrases in France and Spain.  I was tickled by the Spanish phrase “Hasta el cuarenta de Mayo no te quites el sayo!” “Until the 40th of May, do not take off your coat”.  Every May, even here in the sub tropics in south east Texas, we always get a wee cold snap.  In April our temperatures were heading up to the high 80s and I started thinking of getting the summer clothes out.  On May 4th (Star Wars Day) the high in Houston was 90F/32C and on May 5th it was down to 63F/17C – no wonder I had to wear my favorite fleecy cat socks.  If you live in Canada or Scotland, you might be cursing me, “63 degrees sounds like summer to me…”

It occurred to me that I have very few summer clothes despite where I live.  In Scotland I had a tiny box of summer vacation clothes that lasted for 20 years.  Everything else was clothes that could be layered along with a few polar jackets/sweaters.  Our neighboring village had snow one June – WTH?  It was a cold snap and we lived on a high plateau with nothing between us and the Arctic.  At least our clothes dried quickly – sometimes hard frozen.  My body temperature runs cool like a really good car – the temperature in the house is 76 degrees and I am wearing a light sweater but my feet are cold.

I love warmth but not really strong sunlight.  Living in a forest helps because in tree shade the temperature can drop by 20 degrees.  We have a pair of beautiful water oaks who live in the reserve but their canopy covers our deck giving us delicious shade.  I thank them by spraying them up and down with the garden hose.  I swear that the Live Oak in the front trembles with pleasure when I hose her down on a hot day.  Teddy and I enjoy sitting in our rockers under the Water Oaks although I am always afraid of a Cicada falling on my head.  Their song is wonderful but they give me the jitters.  So, so glad that we don’t live in any of the States who are about to greet Brood X 2021.  For non-Americans, there is a type of Cicada that emerges every 17 years in Ohio and neighboring states.  If you don’t like Cicadas it is like Hitchcock’s famous horror movie The Birds.  In the next few days 1.5 million per acre will be emerging – that is BILLIONS of them. Apparently they taste like shrimp when cooked – I will never know…

Graph courtesy of USDA Forest Service and VOX

Postscript

The Brood X has been delayed a few days by this cold snap making the anticipation even greater.