BY THE SPECTATOR, JOHN MALONEY
There is something nice to be said about the month of February. It’s a short month! Here we are with just a few weeks left before we turn the calendar and welcome the month of March.
You can almost smell the scent of spring in the air. March is a nice month, even though it is devoid of holidays. Of course there is St. Patrick’s Day. The department stores are already decorated with the Easter bunny, the chicken and the eggs and all the other paraphernalia associated with Easter and Passover and the usual spring sales. March is an easy month to be happy with unless you were Julius Caesar!
I haven’t seen a robin yet, but I’m sure they’re on the way. Did you ever wonder whether the robins and all the other birds that left us in the winter for sunny climates ever thing twice about coming north?
Are there perhaps some renegade robins that would prefer to settle in Florida or Alabama or whatever part of Dixie they made their winter abode. The temptation must be great to remain in the “land of cotton.” Maybe they have to leave in order to make way for the influx of college students and baseball players.
And don’t you imagine that the birds that stayed around Rockland all winter might just be a little annoyed at the return of their well-heeled furry cousins who could afford to fly south. I’m sure the cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays, white capped buntings, not to mention the perennial starlings and sparrows who had all the bread crumbs and seed to themselves, are just a little peeved with the return of the robin.
The faithful feathered friends who braved the wintery blasts and snow have long been neglected by all especially those of us who could not fly off to warmer environs. What must annoy those species who remained with us to face Old Man Winter is the fact that we make a big fuss about the return of the robins. The average bird couldn’t care less!
The Spectator has been in the habit of feeding the birds that decided to stay in the wooded area behind his house during the winter. I’ve learned to speak “birdeeze” and hence I can tell you exactly how they feel.
I was scattering some bird seed during one of those balmy days we had a few weeks ago and I heard Sammy the Starling exclaim “It must be at least 50 degrees today. Soon I can get rid of the galoshes. A few more days like this and you know who will be coming back! I get tired of you people talking about the ‘robins are coming! The robins are coming’, who needs them?”
Spectator: But after all, you are related and you should be glad to see them again.
Sam Starling: Phooey! They’re rich relations and you know what a pain in the neck they can be. My wife is already complaining: How come the robins can go south every year, and we have to sit it out in this Ice Palace called Rockland? You know what I mean, Spectator.
Spectator: Yeah…I get the message.
Sam Starling: They come back showing off their orange bellies and preening themselves. Then they have to tell us about the great time they had; the beautiful climate, the people they met, the fine cuisine, the stop offs at Virginia, Washington and the Carolinas. I’m sick of their dribble! I’d like to get to Miami just once. One year I got as far as Washington but had to turn back. The thermal updraft from the hot air over Washington was too much for me. About that time, a sassy blue jay joined the conversation. In fact, I found out that her name was Sassy.
Sassy: I hear you’ve been talking about the return of the robins, like they were some celebrities. We can’t stand them! Ever since songwriters wrote songs about them, they’ve become unbearable. I think they get royalties on every recording. You know that ole chestnut: “When the red red robin comes bob-bob-bobbing along…” Personally, I think the song is terrible. I feel we blue jays have more to offer. We certainly look better!
Spectator: But the robin has always been identified with the return of spring.
Sam: That’s a lot of bunk. They just have a good press agent. Like those other birds, the swallows that go back to Capistrano every year. Spring would come whether those robins ever made it back from Florida.
Sassy: It burns me up that no one gives a hoot about us birds that hung around all winter. No one writes songs about us or writes about us in children’s story books.
Another feathered friend joined the group at this time. It was the old reliable sparrow, the common man of the bird clan. I learned that his name was Sherm.
Sherm: Hi Spectator. Thanks for the bread crumbs. Could you throw in some Levy’s rye with seeds sometime? I’ve never been south of Central Park. Flew down there to visit some relatives. Had lunch at the Tavern on the Green and almost got mugged! Don’t mention those robins to me. My ancestors had trouble with them birds. You remember the rhyme: “Who killed cock robin? I said the sparrow. I shot him with my bow and arrow.” The robin had it coming to him. Always bragging about his trip south.
Sam Starling: No matter what. They’ll be back like they own the place. Look at that cardinal over there. He’s a prince of a bird. You don’t see him leaving his friends to fly south.
Sassy: One thing about staying north during the winter, we keep up with the local papers and all the news.
Sam Starling: Yea, there are a lot of birds in political office that should fly south with the robins and stay there!
Shem: Let them eat crow!
Sam Starling: Hey, don’t talk about my cousin Jim Crow like that. You know, anything is possible at the Pentagon. My uncle flew through there during the war and an hour later when he flew out, he had an eagle on his shoulder.
Sherm: I’d rather have a chicken on my knee!
Spectator: You guys are for the birds! I’m going back inside or else my editor won’t have a column this week!