On Birds in the Snow

About an hour ago, snow began to fall on Baltimore.

The weather forecast earlier this morning called for one to three inches of accumulation. A few hours later, during Car Talk, the local NPR news announcer revised that forecast upward to ten inches. (Correction: Ten inches is the Eastern Shore. Charm City is still just three inches.)

Outside my office window at home stands a holly tree. The tree must be forty feet tall. I don’t know how long ago it was planted, but it’s been around for a long, long time.

If I look out the window, I can see the bright green leaves on the branches and the red berries. The snow against the green leaves and red berries has a nice wintry look.

A flock of robins, numbering forty or more, have taken up residence in the vicinity of the tree.

Most of the robins are on the ground, hopping in the snow.

But there are a few robins, at least five, perhaps closer to ten, who are dive-bombing the holly tree. They are knocking the berries off the tree. The berries fall to the ground. The huddled masses of robins then pluck the berries from the dusting of snow.

These dive bombers are daredevils. One smacked hard into the office window earlier. I cannot imagine that throwing themselves at the holly tree will leave them unscathed; holly leaves are hard and they are sharp.

And I don’t know if this accumulation of robins should be eating the holly berries.

I’ve watched them from the first floor, hopping in the snow. It’s really quite comical. Some are large, some are not so large. Hop, hop, hop. Then, suddenly and without warning, the head bobs down, strikes the snow, and when it comes up there’s a red berry in the beak. Then, hop, hop, hop again.

Imagine thirty robins or more doing this. All at the same time.

They pay no attention to the falling snow. Perhaps they take turns as the dive bombers. I wonder what their social pecking order is like.

I don’t want to go outside. It’s cold. And it would only frighten the birds away.

These robins, they’ll move on when they’re ready.

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