Having grown up in America, I have been fortunate to have had the American Robin in sight my whole life. It gave me a smile, then, to witness a British birding couple experiencing it for the first time.
It is a bright orange-breasted ten inch bird, not too hard to miss. They don’t zoom like hummingbirds or soar majestically like hawks. They don’t flit around in 200 foot high canopies, impossible to see. Robins usually forage close to the ground and move in short and steady hops, giggling loudly or better yet, singing melodiously. Furthermore, many Americans are taught from the age of two to recognize the Robin, that’s how we learned what “R” was. That illustration of the robin tugging a worm out of the earth is burned into our little brains. It is one of the most recognizable and easily identified birds in our world.
I was literally focusing on a different bird, binoculars to my eyes. Then in a sing-song voice I heard a woman enthusiastically proclaim, “Why, I do believe it’s an American Raw-bin!”
This made me curious. I removed my binoculars, saw a petite woman standing beside a man I assumed was her husband, and they were both intently studying the robin through their binoculars. This bird, I realized, was exotic to them. I found their excitement endearing.
Even though that short incident happened over five years ago, I can still hear that British woman in my mind, appreciate her fresh enthusiasm and genuine pleasure. Every creature, I am reminded, is special.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander