Jackie Hope: Winging it
Hey, have you seen any robins yet? They are back from their winter digs and are scouting yards for worms, hot-looking robins of the opposite gender and affordable housing.
Don’t know about your yard, but the only thing resembling a worm in our front yard is a snapped rubber band that went flying off The Dickinson Press early one Sunday morning. Two crows fought over it for 15 minutes, and when one finally gave up and let go, the other rebounded halfway to Billings County.
The TV weather guys are telling us the ground is still frozen to a near-record depth, so robins are going to be wormless for some time to come. Know anyone who raises nightcrawlers for fun and profit? Nah, me neither. Well, Internet to the rescue!The Wild Birds Unlimited website suggests feeding early-bird robins suet, chopped apples or dried berries.And, BTW, Wild Birds Unlimited offered this little factoid: Robins eat 14 feet of earthworms each day. So that is, like, enough earthworms laid end-to-end to extend the whole length of your dining room. Or the length of Donald Trump’s dining room table. Well, I think Wild Birds was stretching the truth; or stretching the worms.Wild Birds also tells us that only the guy robins sing the “doodle-dee, doodle-up” song. The one we hear in early spring when the guys are looking for, uh, when the guy robins are whistling at the girl robins. Kinda like Pharrell, but with a hummable tune. “Doodle-dee, doodle-up, doodle-ee-dee.” Oh, wait, that last “doodle” was a chickadee song.Good luck, guys, on finding a nesting place for you and your new lady. There are no leafy shrubberies, budding trees or brushy bushes blossoming. Unless you are pining to move into a fir tree, or wanting to spruce up a Norwegian blue, you are gonna have to get yourself on a waiting list for a deciduous building permit, because spring ain’t here yet, baby.Is it just me, or have you noticed that the robins return each year on almost the same date? Please tell me it’s not just me. This is so weird. In fact, it is so weird, we have been marking the Robin Arrival Date for several years, beginning in 2006 when the first robins alit in the backyard on March 27.In 2007 and 2008, they appeared on March 18. In 2009, it was March 21. In 2010, on March 17, they came looking for something green. In 2011, they dawdled and did not arrive until March 24. 2012, it was March 16. In 2013, they pulled an April foolie and came late — on April 1. And 2014? Earliest yet: March 15.No, we are not obsessive compulsive. Not very much, anyway. But isn’t it the strangest thing, when those little frequent fliers seem to always land in that 2½-week window? How do they do that?Can’t you just see Rob-the-Red perching on the Twins’ training camp backstop down in Fort Myers, Fla.? And he says to his buddy, Rob-Ben … Wait. What? Didn’t you know that all robins are named Rob? It is sorta like George Foreman naming all his kids George. Yes, he really did that. Even some of his girls are named George. Which actually beats the heck out of naming your kid Blanket, as in Blanket Jackson or Apple, as in Apple Martin — Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay singer Chris Martin’s daughter.Hmm, maybe naming your kid Blanket or Apple is better than Edward or Bella. Because there are a bajillion toddlers named Edward and Bella, and if you holler for your adorable Edward or your baby Bella on a playground, you are likely to attract 15 kids and a dozen assorted dogs, all with those names.However, if you call out to baby Blanket or little Apple on a playground, you will easily get the attention of your creatively-named offspring. Plus, bonus perk for hollering those one-of-a-kind names: You might attract another mom who brings you a snack bag full of Golden Delicious or Pippins. Or a fleecy throw for your lap.Anyway, robins.Rob-the-Red is hanging around the Twins’ spring training camp, and he notices the baseball players getting their gear together and breaking camp. He says to his bud, Rob-Ben, “Yo, bro! Those dudes are getting ready to go back up north. Time for us to go too, man. Hey, those guys got their own airplane. No way I’m flying myself back north, when I can ride in luxury like those baseball players. I’m gonna go get the missus and demand a ride on that team jet.”So Rob-the-Red flies off to get his wife, Rob-Berta, while Rob-Ben calls after him, “Shotgun! I ain’t wingin’ it, either. I am so riding shotgun on the team jet!”See, it just makes sense that robins are baseball fans, ‘cause of the Blue Jays and Cardinals and Orioles, and they follow the teams when they break spring training camp. And that’s why the robins always arrive back up north at the same time every year, at the beginning of baseball season.Oh, you are wondering about Rob-the-Red, Rob-Berta, and Rob-Ben?Well, they talked their way onto the Twins’ jet, and rode in first class, with window seats. In fact, when the robins raised a ruckus about the food service on the plane, the flight attendant gave them the worm from the bottom of a Mezcal bottle.Because everyone knows that the surly bird gets the worm.