Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Robbee Z. Robin - A Tribute

As you know, much of what is on this blog is from my journals and was written previously and sent via e-mail to my family and friends. This, however, is something I’ve not written about before and it is about a very recent, unfortunate, and tragic incident in my life. I am truly full of remorse.

That said, I expect I’m going to hear from people who are animal activists, members of Audubon societies, PETA, ornithologists, aviaries, animal rescue groups, - whatever.

I have admitted before that I’m timid around animals. I love to watch them from a distance, find many of them very interesting and beautiful, and enjoy immensely going to the zoo; it’s one of my favorite places to visit. I am just not a touchy, feely animal person. I enjoy most animals from afar, though frankly some are just plain creepy like snakes, mice, rats, and the like.

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to enjoy bird life and do a little bird watching from our windows so Scott and I put up bird feeders and a birdbath and we bought some bird identification books. It was great to see all the wonderful, colorful species that came to our yard. We saw owls and woodpeckers, wrens, sparrows, bluebirds, cardinals, robins, and lots and lots of squirrels and bird poop. In fact, we saw more squirrels and bird poop than birds. Our yard became a squirrel haven and birds built nests in our gutters which then clogged up and overflowed. Our windows and siding were covered in bird poop. The birds seemed to enjoy bathing and pooping in the same water. We’d put in clean, fresh water, but the dirtier it got, the more the birds liked it and soon they were practically having bird conventions. Needless to say, we quickly learned that we were not good at bird care, bird feeding, bird watching or bird enjoyment. We shut down the bird resort.

Earlier this Spring I went around the yard doing some general weeding and clean up. A robin showed up and did not fly away while I worked. Instead he scooted in between the bushes, hiding under the leaves, moving right along with me, not flying away, not trying to get rid of me, not protecting any nest that I could see, not making any chirping conversation. Not that I speak bird chirping. I can’t say for sure that this robin was a male. It seems the only way to tell is if the male and female are together and then the male will have slightly darker coloring. Since he spent the day with me I named him Robbee Z. Robin. We seemed to have some sort of connection that only Robbee understood but I could respect that.

Robbee stayed near me as I worked for an hour or so weeding and cleaning up the yard. I’d move to a new spot and he’d follow me, never flying, only doing his bird-walk thing, in and among all the bushes and plants. No conversation, no chirping on his part. Once in a while I’d ask what he was up to, how he was enjoying his day, how his family was, and I’d remind him to keep his distance and not invade my personal space. Once I was finished with the weeding I bid Robbee adieu and went into the house for lunch.

After a little rest I thought I might as well continue with the outside cleanup and tackled the patio. I washed all the furniture and hosed off the all the dirt on the pavers. I took off the grill cover, thoroughly sprayed the outside of the grill surface with cleaning solution, then scrubbed and rinsed it with the hose. Scott would clean all the inside cooking parts later.

As I was putting the cover back on I heard a distinctive scratching, tapping noise. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Tap, tap, tap. I could feel my heart begin to pound and I was certain there was a mouse stuck somewhere in the grill so I adjusted the hose to its strongest stream and began to force the strong stream of water into every nook and cranny, including the underneath parts down by the grill wheels. I was determined to out that mouse!

But what popped out in the flood of water was Robbee Z. Robin who was lying cockeyed and limp on his back, eyes open but unfocused, and in an unfortunate state of apparent death. I had hosed Robbee to death.

I called to my next door neighbor’s grandson who was helping her in her garden and asked him to come and use the shovel to move Robbee over into the woods. My neighbor was all for putting poor Robbee in with her weeds in the big, black garbage bag she was using, but I fought for some dignity for Robbie. I knew if he was in the woods his family would have a chance to find him, nurse him back to health if my assessment of his condition was wrong, or if it was unfortunately correct, they could give him a really nice bird funeral. Or he could be food for the other animals in the woods, not on my patio. Either way his life would not be in vain.

I feel really awful about this tragic incident. I wonder if Robbee was dying anyway and chose to spend his last hours with me as I did mundane yard work, not wanting to be alone at the end.

In memory of Robbie Z. Robin who tragically died by accidental hosing, June 2010.