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From the Publisher’s Desk – Stop ‘robin’ me of my backyard

By Keith Whitson

I’m am tired of something “Robin” me of my backyard. Somehow I got elected as the bird sanctuary of Erwin, or at least by the robins. I have decided to give my homestead a name – maybe Robin’s Rest or Robin’s Hood. I can tell folks that I live in duh hood.

I would welcome the hummingbirds. I even searched for an unusual feeder, bought them special red mix and placed it in a prominent spot in my yard weeks ago. So far, absolutely none. Could it be the robins are keeping them away?

I go daily searching for robin nests constructed above my back porch or in my shrubs. The last thing I need is for them to have baby birds, hang around longer and make a bigger mess. So far, I have removed three new dwellings, all of which were completely finished and waiting for the mud adhesive to dry. No eggs were occupying them.

Surely robins would get the hint after awhile that I have not issued any new building permits and that my backyard is not zoned for bird dwellings.

I even read that some robins can live up to 12 years and could build 20 to 30 nests in their lifetime. I must take care of this situation immediately before it gets out of hand.

I do admire their workmanship. The nests are made up of about 350 dried fibers of grass and small twigs, which are about 6 inches long. After a soaking rain, they take beakfuls of mud back and forth to the nest site a few hundred times. They weave the grasses together, cementing them to each other and to the supporting branch with the mud. Next, they use their tummy to shape the nest into a baby cradle. Finally, they line the inside with the softest grasses and hairs they can find.

My discovered nests had not gotten to the “hairy” stage when hurricane Keith came through and desolated the neighborhood.

Why am I all a flutter over the robins? They swoop and they poop. Last year I had Bart Ray design a backyard retreat for me. Little did I know I would have to fight the birds for use of it. I think they must be playing a game of checkers on my patio pavers and the game pieces are white droppings.

Each morning I go out to see what damage has been done and how many air raids I suffered through the night and early morning. It’s not easy to clean off.

They dive bomb pavers on my patio, the bar top, patio furniture and my new patio cushions – I got new ones this year but I forgot to consult with the robins on their color preference. I suppose I should have placed swatches of every color available out on the patio to see which one they didn’t mess up. Obviously, I picked an offensive color. Come to think of it, it is a burgundy/rust color. Isn’t that what angers bulls?

After a few splats here and there on the cushions, I have them stored on the back porch until needed. I have also tried any type of scare tactic I can think of.

Strips of aluminum foil are now swaying in the breeze above my porch.  A fake owl perches on the firepit as his head sways with the motion of the breeze. Unfortunately, I think they have seen him do nothing for several years now, so he has lost his fright factor. Hence, bring out the snakes.

I went on Amazon and ordered a dozen lifelike plastic snakes. After trying a few, I realized it was going to take the entire dozen. My backyard patio now looks like a scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

They bomb a spot and I wash it off and leave a snake. I am out of snakes and still cleaning. This morning I looked out my bedroom window to see how bad the impact had been over night.

I saw a robin, inches away from one of the snakes. It had its back turned to the snake with no fear and was staring at my window doing what looked like a happy dance. Near the bird were three fresh piles of droppings.

I am getting worried. My mind goes to the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” As mom and I were sitting at one of the outside tables the other day, a robin sat on the rooftop near us and angrily thumped at the guttering while giving us the evil eye.

Would scarecrows work? Maybe I need live snakes. There are even plenty of free roaming cats in the neighborhood. These birds have everything under their spell.

Do you remember the scene from “Steel Magnolias” where the father is trying to scare off all of the backyard birds before his daughter’s wedding reception? He uses a gun with blanks and lots of fireworks. Get ready Erwin, Operation Robin Rage is about to take place.