I spent an hour this morning photographing my good friend doing bodywork on a horse. Horse Shiatsu. It was beautiful to witness. I love how being the photographer gave me a special “license” to be in the space and pay close attention to the whole process. The barn was quiet with the sound of shuffling animal hooves and sweet smell of hay. Light filtering in through the open door illuminated Truman’s mane and whiskers, and every so often he would move towards me to say hello before relaxing back into his horse massage.
After our walk, Wallace took a five-hour nap and the girls and I did everything we’d ever dreamed of doing, including making fudge pops from our friend Christine’s book Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet — and learning about gall dwellers.
It started with a question: how much territory does a pair of nesting robins like to have?
We came across the following information, and today Amabel started making robin map!
“Somewhere out there, a robin ‘calls’ your backyard its home territory. A robin’s territory — the place where mating and nesting occurs — is usually less than half an acre. Territories often overlap, perhaps because of the feeding grounds that neighboring robins share. If you think robins are everywhere, you’re probably right!
Robin Squabble Story
One summer a Minnesota woman had a pair of robins nesting in her backyard. A pair of robins also nested next door on one side of the yard and yet another nested on the other side of the yard. A fourth pair of robins nested in the yard behind hers. After a few territorial squabbles, the robins pretty much kept to their own yards for feeding. But this woman had the only birdbath on the block, so two of the neighboring pairs of robins started sneaking into her yard for drinks and baths. At first, the male and female robins who “owned” that territory spent a lot of time chasing the intruders away.
But when the female started incubating her eggs, she stopped chasing off the other females. The male chased off the other males until the babies hatched. Then he had to spend so much time searching for food for his nestlings that he stopped chasing off the other robins — unless they started exploring beyond the bird bath. As long as the neighbors flew directly to the birdbath along the shortest possible line from their territory, he left them alone. But if they veered off that path for just a few seconds, he charged the birds!
For several weeks, the woman observed where each robin spent the majority of its time. She noted where each robin could range and be ignored by the others, and where each was when disputes took place. This information gave her a clear picture of each robin’s territory. She could have drawn a simple map with each territory outlined.
Activity: Map A Robin’s Territory
Observe your own robins and see if you can map their territories! Here’s how:
Begin by drawing a map of a small part of your neighborhood. Mark in the trees, bushes, houses, fences, and other things that robins might notice. Mark any robin nests you find.
Use this map to study the robins in your neighborhood for a week or two. Give each robin a letter, number, or symbol. See if you can start to recognize different individuals and notice where each spends its time.
Mark a bird’s letter, number or symbol in the right spot on your map every time you see that bird. Do the robins spend more time in some areas than others? Can you draw territorial boundaries on your map based on where the various robins spend their time?”
(All information from: www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/TerritoryStudy.html)
Here is our “wattle” house in progress — made from poplar tree trimmings, grape vines, and bittersweet vines. Jeffrey dug holes for the poplar trunks and sunk them in the ground about a foot deep. Then we all worked together to weave branches and vines in and out between the poplars, adding more as we are inspired. Our “haus” (as Wallace calls it) has become the perfect place for reading, playing, and popcorn eating!
We’re still debating about how to finish it off. Should we bend the tips of the poplars so that they meet at the top or leave the house open to the sky?
Wallace is slightly in love with the chicks and slightly terrified of them. He runs over to their box saying “Chick! Chick!” and wants to hold one . . . until we put one in his lap and then he says, “Back! Back!” pointing urgently for us to put it in the box again.
Cousin Cora, on the other hand, is a born chick whisperer!
We brought four feathered babies home this week. On the first day, I thought Ellen might smother the chicks with her love. She just didn’t want to put them down. When she wasn’t holding one, she was dancing around, begging to hold one. We had to have a few little talks about giving them space to eat and drink and sleep and grow. It was a good reminder for me too, actually. We all need a little space to thrive.