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Watch Where You Step!

I helped out at the Swarovski Optik booth at the American Birding Association Convention. I was out with a couple of the guys from the booth–Clay and Bruce. As we were going down a mountain road, Clay put on the brakes and said, “That looked like an interesting woodpecker!”

We found a place to pull over and walked in. I was hoping for a Williamson’s sapsucker, but we weren’t seeing anything but robins. Bruce picked up a stick and started pounding a nearby tree, doing his best sapsucker territorial drumming. We heard some soft drumming and eventually found:

…a three-toed woodpecker. Not a lifer, but always a cool woodpecker and fun to see it outside of Minnesota. Clay then said, “Hey, Bruce, check it out.” and pointed to Bruce’s feet.

From Clay’s excitement, we thought there was a snake. We looked down and couldn’t really see anything, Clay kept pointing and then Bruce finally saw it. It’s in the above photo with Bruce. Can you see it? Don’t worry if you can’t, I was there and can barely see what Clay was point to. Here is a hint:

bruce
There in the center of that circle is a tiny young robin! We had been there for several minutes, watching the trees, talking, banging sticks against trees and yet this young robin stayed stock still, using it’s fledgling coloration to camouflage with the surrounding vegetation. I wanted to digiscope it, but the young robin was too close to focus in my scope, so I had to back up a few feet:

“You can’t see me!” Fresh from the nest and already this bird knows what to do, instinct told it to just sit and hide, and the big lumbering creatures would move past, hopefully without stepping on it. It was strange that we did not hear the adult robins give their warning and freak out call. We could hear that they were busy feeding another fledgling nearby. Since we’d seen the woodpecker, we decided to move along and let the young robin be and commence to learning how to care for itself under the tutelage of its parents.

On our way out of the woods, I found a second fledgling. Like its wise sibling, this young robin also stayed stone still as I walked past. Moments like these always make me wonder how many birds (especially owls) have I walked past when focused on something else. How many birds have been just a foot away and I just didn’t see it?

2 comments to Watch Where You Step!

  • J

    I saw a little guy robin in the road while biking Saturday. I shooed him to the grass. Now I realize he was doing the “freeze”. I thought he was “cool” about the whole thing and was just being a tough guy city robin.

  • dguzman

    Hey, I’ve got a baby robin post too! I love those speckley breasts of theirs. I’ll link to this post, so people can see better photos of babies! Hope that’s okay.