In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter robins

We've had a couple of dozen robins hanging around since the weekend. On Sunday they flew up into the oak tree and spread out over patches of ground where the wind had blown the snow away. They are a serious bunch in those distinguished vests of theirs, demonstrating quite a work ethic, like bankers in a better era. I almost expect to see each one wearing a tiny watch chain.

They don't seem to pay attention to time though. Even though it's well past the season to opt for someplace warmer they seem content to be here. When we saw the same thing last winter I worriedly emailed Christopher Majka at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax. He calmed me down by replying that groups of robins often stayed in Nova Scotia through the cold season. Odd as it sounds, it appears this is where they choose to be.

But I wondered what they could find to eat. I guessed they were getting insects in the trees, but surely the worms were hidden deep beneath the frozen earth. My knowledge of the world may be too dependent on children's books, since I do always think of robins pulling up worms. Being foolish and wrong-headed and filled with sympathy, I threw two cups of bird seed out on the broken winter grass. But my offering was beneath them and they ignored it.

Then today I was down at the shore at low tide. I went looking for our gaff, which had fallen off the boat a few weeks ago and which Radar said he thought he had seen washed up past the fish house. I didn't find the gaff, but I did find the robins. They were browsing rocky crevices and seaweed and mud banks below the high tide line, and finding there, I guess, a return well worth their effort.

Image in the public domain.

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