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Creatures Are My Teachers

by Jay Rainey

A Robin’s First Vote


A paper bag containing a baby robin was left in my mailbox. At home, I held him gently while he struggled. I whispered sweet nothings into his ear. We maintained eye contact. Before nightfall, the bird was perched on my finger, accepting worms. I named him Bee-Doop, because that is the sound he made.


I rigged up a branch for a perch. No cage was needed. A nestling stays in one spot and my cat could be trusted implicitly.


The next day was the election. I hiked to the  hall with Bee-doop nestled in my palm. We

peered under logs for treats along the way.


In the voting booth, I was about to mark my X, when I looked at Bee-doop. I looked at the ballot. I looked at Bee-doop again and let the robin choose. Green.


Bee-doop used body language to teach me. When he wanted his first bath, it took ages to understand. He swung his head back and forth. I tried cherries. Nope. Worms. Uh-uh. When I offered a plate of water he instantly jumped in and splashed enthusiastically.


Fledge day - He met the chickens and followed me everywhere. Later I found him lounging on the duvet. He had come in through the broken cat door.


At sunrise, after Bee-doop’s first night out, I woke to a thin, long, barely audible tone I somehow knew was for me. And it was. He was outside the window on a log, watching.


A friend was carrying a bowl of raspberries when Bee-doop zoomed down from the sky, landed on them, and pigged out. Visitors never know what to expect here. 


After a week, he fledged for good.


I believe I saw him the following spring. Robins don’t visit my yard, but one landed on the feeder and lingered. Robins don’t eat seeds, so it was odd. I took him a plate of mealworms, and he flew back to binge. 


Each baby bird I help develops a personality to suit the environment. Imagine being abducted by aliens and plunked into a bizarre world of biped monsters, yet they adapt in no time. 


Calling someone a bird brain is an insult, but I know better. These creatures are smarter than most people. So next time I call you a bird brain, take it as a compliment.  – Jay Rainey

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