A Dance of Delight Over Found Fledglings

THE spring rain became a storm. By 9 p.m. the wind was brushing through the trees, creating an odd, swishing sound. From time to time I went to the door and listened to the worsening storm.

My husband and I were attending a party at a friend's home, and I was concerned about our daughter and son at home. When I called, our son assured us everything was all right, although the lights had been out for some time and the wind had damaged some trees.

Shortly before midnight we returned home and saw candlelight glimmering faintly through one or two windows. After we had ascertained that all within the house was in order, my husband took a flashlight and went outdoors, returning with a baby robin in his hands.

''The nest blew down and this baby is wet and unable to move,'' he said.

I stood there, uncertain, but Beth, our daughter, took the baby, saying, ''We'll have to feed it right away, if it is going to live through the night.''

She soaked bread in egg yolk and, forcing the bird's mouth open, proceeded to push food down its throat. After a few attempts this process was successful, and the bird eagerly ate what was offered.

Suddenly, I said to my husband, ''Please go outside and look around again. If there was one, there must be at least two. Robins never have one baby.''

Shortly he was back with another bird, all that he could find. Now we had two birds to feed, and this was done with much laughter - one person holding a candle, one holding a bird, one feeding a bird, and one giving advice.

But where would we put them for the night? After many suggestions and trial and error, we created a rather large nest from a solid plastic clothes basket and covered the top with a cloth so there would be complete darkness within. The birds seemed content and quiet.

The next morning was Sunday, and by 5 a.m. Beth and I were up. We both had church duties to perform and we knew the babies would demand several feedings before noon. I went outside to see if the parent birds were around, but in spite of the beautiful, clear air, no robin's song was heard.

We fed one bird, and then I listened again at the window. Far away to the south of our land I could hear what I thought was a robin's warble.

I ran outside and as I stood there I could hear the song coming closer. Slowly, oh how slowly they came. Would they be the parents? I called to Beth, ''Bring the bird we have fed and leave the other one in the basket, but bring it too.''

Soon, the two adult robins were in the trees over us, and we put the bird who had not been fed out onto the grass. He hungrily chirped.

Suddenly, the large birds swooped down over his head, creating concentric circles, diving and uttering cries unlike any we had ever heard.

One adult bird landed on the grass and immediately rose straight up into the air. He repeated this ballet while we stood staring in awe. We felt suspended in time, scarcely believing what we were seeing - as though it were a fantastic dream.

We released the other bird. Since he had already been fed, he was silent. Before long, however, the parents saw him and their delight was repeated.

We still remember with wonder this ecstatic display of emotion from two robins.

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