“Look at all these robins,” I marveled. “I didn’t think it was time for them to show up.”
“It’s too early,” he said. “Look, most of them are young. They still have down feathers.” They did. Flashes of white fluff made a stripe between the redbreast and the brown. “It’s too early for them to migrate up here.”
The robins were flying back and forth, high, low, across, from tree to tree and back. You could tell it was a pattern, but not what that pattern was. And they were all calling out.
“Wow, look at that, did you see that? One almost got creamed by a car, flying too low. I tell you, they’re young and inexperienced. My gosh, I’ve never seen so many at once. Look how many are in that tree!”
"Either they know something we don’t, or they were displaced,” I said.
“Displaced. They’re really hungry. See how they’re swarming? They know they only have an hour before the sun goes down.” He pointed. “They don’t eat seeds, they eat bugs and worms. Look, they’re pecking the ground next to the buildings, because that’s the only place the snow has melted. They can’t get enough food. I wish I had a shovel.” He kicked some dirty snow. “It won’t melt by tomorrow.”
“No, it’ll just get a crust on top of the ice,” I said, and he agreed. “Damn.”
I went upstairs and brought back down my dustpan. We dug up snow around the bases of the trees and along a line of turf. John had the knowledge and the strategy. All we needed was the dustpan. Now hopefully the birds will stick around.