[Tweeters] Robin "worm butcher" & new yard-bird

Beach Dee beachdee at hotmail.com
Sat May 29 14:12:34 PDT 2010

Hi Tweeters,

Yesterday afternoon we watched the male (of the pair of ROBINS who've been frequenting our yard) "butcher" two jumbo earthworms in our vegetable garden. Usually when I see them catch a worm, it's gulped down immediately or they fly off right away to their nest with it. By "butcher", I'm not inferring Freddie Kruger, I mean in the sense that the person at the market cuts the carcass into useable-sized pieces. This robin kept at it, for a couple of long minutes, pecking and flailing at the worms as they got into a couple of large pieces, then keeping at those pieces until it had made 5 or 6 much smaller pieces, which was all it was able to fit into its beak at one time before then flying off (presumably to its nest). It actually left a large half of one of the worms just laying there, as it had concentrated on the pieces that were getting broken up into smaller and smaller bits. Perhaps some of you have observed this before -- it's the first time I've gotten to watch the procedure, and at first my husband and I were a bit stymied as to why it didn't just woof those big juicy worms down, but it all came clear eventually, as those jumbo worms might have choked a nestling. I did not see it eat any of the pieces.

This morning (11 a.m.) I glanced out in time to see a bird that I had not seen before -- my mind immediately went "THRUSH" but which? I grabbed the binocs and got a split-second look, which revealed eye-ring and blotchy light-colored breast, for the most part very bland brownish-gray otherwise, longish legs and roundish aspect to body as it hopped quickly along and disappeared into bushes, and disappeared. So I only got about 5 seconds total look at it. I've concluded it's probably a Swainson's, because the breast spots weren't really dark. My only indecision on that or Hermit is because it did not strike me as being as large as a Robin (book gives same size for Swainsons and Robin, Hermit slightly smaller) and the pics in book give the idea that Hermit is a "rounder" bird and Swainson's more slender (but--has lighter breast blotches). Anyway, then I read Carol Riddell's recent Edmonds report in which she had heard a Swainson's (on the other side of town, admittedly -- I'm about a mile north of the dock). Any ideas/thoughts for someone not real experienced with the Thrushes?

Danene Warnock

Edmonds, WA

beachdee at hotmail.com

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