Ah, the lovely sounds of summer. Lawn mowers buzzing, leaves rustling in the breeze, frogs croaking at twilight, the furtive spritz of a sprinkler system.
And, of course, the delightful thump, thump, thump of the robin.
I used to think robins behaved pretty much like the other feathered beings that hang out in my trees chirping and pooping on my patio furniture.
It seemed a pretty good supposition. Robins are classically birdlike. They show up at the beginning of spring, build normal bird-type nests, lay pretty blue eggs and hatch chicks, get up early to catch worms and in general act just like a bird.
At least, that’s what the ones in my yard have always done before. But this spring, the most macho and bird-brained bird in the world moved into my neighborhood.
This fat robin is deceptively friendly looking. In reality, he’s a barroom brawler — aggressively territorial and ready to take on all challengers.
He has one archenemy, in particular, that he is determined to drive away no matter what it takes. All day long he flies at him and bumps him, but he somehow can’t persuade him to leave.
I don’t think there’s much hope of success, no matter how hard he tries, because the opponent he is attacking is his own reflection in my picture window.
There he goes again. Thump. Thump. Thump. He’s relentless. He starts as soon as it’s light out and doesn’t stop until dark.
In the beginning, I was afraid he would hurt himself, and came running to shoo him away. But he seems to be unbreakable. And he doesn’t scare easily. When I venture near the window, my movement sends him winging off to a nearby tree, but he never goes far. Within 15 minutes, he’s back at it again.
I haven’t found a way to stop him. Websites I consulted suggested fogging the window or putting netting in front of it, or blocking it off — but this is the huge picture window in my living room. I’m not ready to cage myself in, in the interest of discouraging this nitwit.
So I’ve ceded the window for now. But I’m keeping a wary eye on him.
Because I think he is quite possibly insane, if you trust that definition that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
I realize that a bird’s head isn’t very big and this guy’s brain is probably the size of a pea. But even so, you’d think that by the thousandth time he bumped into a pane of glass rather than another bird, he would learn.
But not this bruiser. He’s spoiling for a fight, and seems to have no awareness that he is literally his own worst enemy. This full frontal attack on my window has been going on for two months now, with no end in sight.
In fact, recently he has stepped it up. His strikes are more frequent, and I think he is going out of his way to taunt his foe. I notice that a lot of the time he now has a worm or some such thing dangling from his mouth when he thumps, as if to say, “In your face, bird. Look what I have, and I’m not sharing.”
It hasn’t scared the robin in the reflection, but I find it unnerving. The Hitchcockian menace of this assault has not escaped me.
So far, this home-grown terrorist seems to be acting alone. But what if his actions inspire others to join in? I saw the movie. It doesn’t end well.
Yesterday, I was sitting outside minding my own business when a plum fell out of the sky splat onto my head. And I don’t have a plum tree.
I heard the cawing as the perp flew off. I think he has developed a following among the crows.
Mexican Corn on the Cob
I was thinking of giving you a chicken recipe today, but I was terrified it would bring the wrath of the avian community down on my head, so I decided to stick to vegetables instead.
Even using the grill may be a bit dangerous, as I have spotted the robin stalking his reflection in the shiny grill lid, but I decided to risk it, because this recipe is worth the peril. Fresh, sweet corn on the cob is good no matter what, but it is sublime when grilled and served Mexican style.
4 ears of corn, husked, cleaned and trimmed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup crema (Mexican sour cream)
1 cup grated Cotija cheese
1 lime, cut in wedges
Heat the grill and set it to medium-high.
Brush the ears of corn all over with the oil. Grill for about 10 minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes, until some of the kernels are browned and the corn is heated through.
Remove from the grill and lightly sprinkle the ears with the chili powder, then coat them with a thin layer of crema.
Place the grated cheese on a large plate and roll the ears of corn over it to pick up a coating.
Serve immediately, with lime wedges to squeeze over the corn.