I wrote at the end of April that we hadn’t seen the robin for two weeks, this after he had been visiting almost every day since late 2014. There was a brief gap in attendance in early summer 2015, when he lost a territory dispute, but he returned in the autumn and, apart from a few days here and there, had been in coming to us every day. Then, in mid-April he disappeared and I thought we’d see him no more.
Last Sunday, the 11th, he surprised us by suddenly reappearing, flying to a favourite perch in the garage and from there to his usual spot for eating mealworms. We didn’t have any mealworms at that point, so offered mix seed which he accepted and we then went out to get supplies in. He was looking scruffy and rather thin and we wondered what had caused him to leave such a well-provisioned life. He had a secure territory, a mate, plenty of food, so why depart from that? Maybe his mate was predated and he decided to explore elsewhere. I’m amazed that no other robin took over his patch and he didn’t come back finding he needed to fight in order to regain it. It amuses me to think he took the opportunity to return to the Philosophy Robin status we imagined for him during the first two years, when he didn’t appear to have a mate.
This time, the robin was absent for four months and we will never know what he got up to or where he went, but it’s good to see him back. He’s dropped straight back into his old routine and seems to still recognise the few phrases we’ve habitually used. Calling out ‘Mealworms!’ elicits a quick bob and on hearing the invitation ‘Come on then!’ he will fly from the woodshed into the garage and on to the day’s favoured perch.
There is no knowing the ways of a wild bird and this one continues to puzzle us.