Robin Redbreast Merry Robin Redbreast





"Robin, robin redbreast,

Singing on the bough,

Come and get your breakfast,

We will feed you now.

Robin likes the golden grain,

Nods his head and sings again:

'Chirping, chirping cheerily,

Here I come so merrily,

Thank you, children dear!'"



Thus sang Phyllis one morning during the second week in March.



In the topmost bough of the old apple-tree sat Robin Redbreast, looking

altogether doubtful as to whether he liked the little girl's song.



But when he saw the grains of wheat which the child was scattering on

the ground for his breakfast, he thought better of his doubt.



He hopped lower on the branches. He turned his little head on one side

and looked at Phyllis in a very friendly fashion.



"Come on down!" Phyllis begged. "I am so glad that you have returned.

I am so glad that you came to this very apple-tree and sang so strong

and loud and clear!"



"Chirp! Chirp!" and the robin hopped again nearer.



"You see," Phyllis went on, in her coaxing little voice, "my brother

Jack, being a boy, said he would be the one to see the first robin this

year.



"But I made up my mind that if watchful eyes and careful ears could

help a little girl, I would get ahead of Jack.



"Sure enough, the first thing I heard this morning was your sweet song.

When did you arrive? Aren't you rather early?"



By this time the robin was on the ground, pecking away at the grain.

As he ate his breakfast he told his story.





"I have been south all winter long," he said. "It is very lovely in

the southland. Food is plenty, the days are long, and the sunshine is

golden, bright, and warm.



"But as soon as the spring days came I grew restless. I knew the snow

was beginning to melt and the grass to grow green in my old home

country. I wanted to start north at once.



"I spoke to my little mate about it, and found her to be as homesick as

I. So we flew north a little earlier than usual this year, and arrived

ahead of the others. We are now quite anxious to get to housekeeping,

and are already looking for a suitable place for a nest."



"If you will build near us," said Phyllis, "I will help you care for

your little ones. I will give you all the crumbs that you can eat."



"Oh! oh!" chirped the robin; "you are very kind, Phyllis, but I hardly

think you would know how to feed bird babies.



"You see our babies are so fond of bugs and worms and all sorts of

insects, that they do not care for crumbs when they can have nice fat

worms.



"We sometimes feed berries and cherries to our babies. We older birds

often eat fruit, but really we like worms and bugs better."



"The robins ate all the cherries from the top of our cherry-tree last

year," said Phyllis.



"Yes, we did eat some of your cherries," admitted the robin. "They

were very sweet and juicy.



"There are people who say that we robins are a nuisance, and that we

destroy so much fruit that they wish we would never come near them.

The fact is, we do more good than harm to your orchards and berry

patches. Just think how many insects we destroy! If it were not for

us I think much more fruit would be destroyed by insects. And worms

and caterpillars would be crawling everywhere.



"A robin is a very greedy fellow. He eats nearly all the time. I

could not begin to tell you how many insects I have eaten during my

life.



"There are cutworms, too, which live underground. During the night

they come out for food. We robins are early risers, and often catch

the slow worms before they can get back to their underground homes."



"Ah," laughed Phyllis, "that must be the reason that we say that the

early bird catches the worm."



"When our babies come," said the robin, "we are very busy, indeed.

Those young mouths seem always to be open, begging for more food.



"My mother says that when I was a baby robin she was kept busy all day

long.



"There were four baby birds in the nest. I myself ate about seventy

worms in a day. My brother and sisters had as good appetites as I."



"Will you build here in the apple-tree?" asked Phyllis. "I should so

like to watch you. Besides, there is a garden just beneath with

millions of bugs and insects there."



"Oh, yes," replied the robin. "We shall surely build there. You will

find that robins like to build near your home. We have a very friendly

feeling towards people. That is the reason that we hop about your lawn

so much and that we waken you by singing near your window in the early

morning."



"I have heard that robins are not very good nest-builders," said

Phyllis. "I was told that a great number of robins' nests were blown

down by every hard storm."



"More are destroyed than I like to think about," said the robin. "But

my father and mother raised three families of birds in their nest last

season.



"Early in the spring they were very busy about their nest-building.

First they brought sticks, straw, weeds, and roots. With these they

laid the foundation in what seemed a very careless fashion, among the

boughs.



"Then here on this foundation they wove the round nest of straws and

weeds. They plastered it with mud. They lined it with soft grasses

and moss.



"In this nest my mother laid four beautiful greenish-blue eggs. From

the first egg that cracked open I crept out. From the three other eggs

came my brother and sisters.



"We were not handsome babies. I don't believe bird babies ever are

beautiful at first. We had no feathers, and our mouths were so big and

yellow.



"We were always hungry, for we were growing very fast. Our mouths flew

open at every little noise. We thought every sound was the flutter of

our parents' wings. They always brought such fine food for us."



The robin pecked away at his breakfast for some time before he spoke

again. Then he again took up the story of his life.



"How well I remember being taught to fly," he said. "How our mother

coaxed us to try our wings. How timid and feeble we were One of my

sisters fell to the ground and a great gray cat caught her.



"Our wings were very weak then and our feathers were still short. I

then had no beautiful red breast. It was just a rusty looking white

spotted with black.



"My mother's breast was not so red as my father's. She was of a paler

colour and she sang much less than he. She was a very happy little

mother, however, and she chirped very sweetly to her babies.



"After we flew from the nest, and were able to look out for ourselves,

my mother laid four more greenish-blue eggs in the same nest. By and

bye four more young robins were chirping about in the garden.



"Quite late in the season my parents were again nesting. But it was

rather unfortunate that they did so. A great storm came up and a

branch broke from the tree and destroyed the four blue eggs.



"It was shortly after this mishap that the robins flew south for the

winter.



"My brother, who was always a brave, cheery fellow, thought he would

rather stay here. I wonder how he fared. I have not yet seen him."



"I have not seen him lately, but he was here during the winter," said

Phyllis. "I dare say you will find him soon."



"Well," said the robin, picking up the last grain of wheat, "I thank

you, Phyllis, for this fine breakfast.



"I will only say 'good morning.' I think you will see me again.

Perhaps I will show you where we build our nest."



"I am grateful to you," replied Phyllis. "You see the cherry-tree

grows beside Jack's window. You might have sung your morning song

there."





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