My birdbath, a large shallow dish, hangs suspended from three chains on a skinny post in the backyard. During the summer months it’s the only thing on my bird-feeding station, no sunflower seeds or suet that might encourage the bears to come sniffing around. This adobe-colored, plastic version replaced a much more beautiful, but less practical, blue-glazed pottery saucer that met its demise a few years ago.
The robins don’t seem to care—plastic or ceramic—they just need a place to get a drink and take a bath.
Last year a pair of the thrushes nested in a nearby piñon tree and took turns coming to the water. The male with his bright red breast and dark head was an enthusiastic bather. It was my favorite part of the day—to watch him take a sip or two while standing on the rim before venturing in to take a short but splashy bath. When he was done, he’d pause to have a good shake and then would disappear in the trees.
There’s been no sign of the two in the nest this spring. My backyard has been filled with welders and stonemasons and their noisy tools. An occasional robin—maybe the same one?—passes through and pauses for a quick drink, but no bathing.
I’m not the only one. In this lovely essay, Constancy, the writer has also been missing a familiar pair of birds.
My backyard has gone quiet now. The work is finished. Maybe the robins will return.