Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bird Encounter

"Cheep, cheep, cheep!"

The robin ran as it cheeped at me, trying to keep a modest 3 feet ahead of my steps.

A young 'un, I thought. An older wiser bird might have just flown out into the bushes. This was a juvenile, not a fledgling, maybe a few weeks older. "Why are you cheeping at me? Sorry, I don't speak Robinese."

I overtook the robin and continued my steady pace up the road. A small ball of feathers whizzed past me, and there was the robin again, running industriously ahead me, maintaining its original pace.  I froze in place, just to watch what it did. It halted, likewise, turned and started to pick at what might have been a worm, or a dried pine needle on the road.

It looked up at me inquiringly to see if I got the hint. But being a dumb human, I didn't take a cue and attempt to munch on the goodies spread across the asphalt. It attempted to teach me again as I walked on, finally giving up a couple of minutes later, as my strides took me up the hill, and it found new distraction at the base of a bush.

A strange but puzzling encounter. I have never been the attempted object of Robin training before, so this was a first. Could it have been the colors that I wore that morning- a bright red shirt with a touch of white at the neck, and black knit pants? Maybe it thought that I was some kind of a giant baby robin who ran on its two feet instead of flying, and needed training on how to tackle a worm on the ground?

I would love to know what just went on in that little bird brain.


Lekhni said...

If it had just hatched, at least you could assume imprinting. But you say this one seemed a few weeks old..puzzling.

Sujatha said...

I would estimate its age at maybe 4 or 5 weeks, given that a new fledgling is usually about 2 weeks old. This was puzzling behavior for a robin, but maybe I need to delve into scholarly literature on animal behavior to find an explanation.

Whether it was imprinting or not, I did briefly feel like a robin myself.