Like many people, I enjoy turning dirt – gardening and landscaping in my yard. Not only is it rewarding to see plants grow from meager beginnings, but these actions attracts birds. In spring and summer when most planting and breaking-of-ground is taking place, I seem to have a stalker that is waiting to pounce the moment I step outside and grab an implement. It is if an alarm sounds, or perhaps a dinner bell. The stalker is an American Robin. A human stirring sod and soil exposes tasty invertebrates, such as earthworms, which are then easy pickings for this common backyard bird. Like all birds, American Robins are adept at exploiting opportunity because their survival depends on it. During a few instances this spring, an American Robin was collecting small worms in a area I had stirred up. The bird did not gorge itself on the food, it simply kept collecting more and more in its bill. It was obviously a female robin gathering food to take to its hungry brood.
About a week ago, I was sweeping off my driveway because clumps of silver maple seeds (a.k.a. “helicopters”) were still there, were decomposing and were a mess. Immediately, an American Robin appeared and started to pick small invertebrates in areas where my broom had passed over. After snapping a few photos and comparing them to photos I took earlier in spring (such as the one above), I believe they are of the same bird based on the pattern of the dark gray splotching on the upper portion of the orange breast.
Whether it is one American Robin or a whole syndicate of opportunists does not really matter. This is a common occurrence and anyone who stirs the dirt has experienced an American Robin sidling up next to them as they work. Even so, it is a simple pleasure and I enjoy observing this common species in my ordinary yard doing nothing exceptional.