Family of Robins

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

May 17, 2010


Fr. Peter Daly talks about sharing his front door with a family of robins.


            I have a family living in my rectory and I don’t care who knows it. You can tell the Archbishop if you like. That’s because it is a family of birds. Robins to be exact.

            They built their nest on the window ledge right above my front door.

            The Robins arrived right on time with the first day of spring. They started their bob, bob, bobbin’ along.

            I noticed them coming out the rectory front door for morning mass. There was a mess of twigs on the porch right in front of the door. I turned around to go back into the house for a broom and saw a chain of twigs up the side of the door leading to the window ledge above the door. I pulled on it and disturbed the nest above.

            Immediately a red breasted robin flew out of the nest he had been working on and dived at me. I high tailed it into the house.

            Valuing caution over speed, I went out the back door and around to the front of the house. Mr. Robin was flying in with a mouth full of building material. I left him to his work, figuring I wouldn’t mind having somebody to share the rectory with. Especially now since my cat had died.

            When I came up the front walk after mass, I forgot about the robins. Mr. Robin again dive bombed me. But I stood my ground and walked straight up to the front door.

            Over the next few days, we worked out a modus vivendi.  I opened the door and went quickly off the porch. As long as I did not dawdle too long, the robins did not seem to mind.

            It was a good place to build a nest. The porch roof protected it from the elements. The high ledge was impossible for cats and other predators to reach. The nearby garden gave a reliable source of worms and other creepy food.

            Eventually Mrs. Robin showed up. She got busy about egg laying. Early in April she was sitting on the eggs in the nest. More coming and going with Mr. Robin, but she was usually sitting in the nest. I could watch her directly by going half way up the hallway stairs inside the house and sitting down, facing the front door. She and I were on the same level on opposite sides of the glass. We eyed one another warily.

            Eventually babies started peep-peeping in the nest. Cute, tiny little heads were visible over the sides of the nest.

            They stared making a mess on the porch. One other advantage for them was the easy disposal of sanitation from the nest. But it made a problem for me on the porch.

            Despite the little nuisance, I am very glad to have the robins.

            They remind me that we share this planet with other creatures.

            Just because we stake our claim to space with our great big nests, doesn’t mean that we are the only tenants.

            I like looking in on the growing family.

            Soon they will be flying away.

            The thing about rectory life, these days, is that most priests live alone. We come and go without anybody noticing too much.

            In a way it is nice to have some other living thing to share my space with. Something that God also put here and cares for. Something that God also looks at and sees that it is very, very good. And cute too.