Looking out the kitchen window, I saw the fattest robin ever sitting in our Japanese dogwood. Bubba Redbreast looked, well, fat and happy as he surveyed his domain with a speculative eye. I could about read the thought bubble above his head: she will like this. It’s got a good school district and great views. She’s gonna pick me.
A few days later I heard robin chirps outside the window. I’m no bird expert, but can tell the difference between wooing and warring. Racing to the window, I spied Bubba, feet out, locked in mortal combat with another male robin. The second lad was taller and thinner; they were probably equal in body mass, just differently distributed.
They flew up in the air, toes clenched on each other, little wings working overtime. I think the challenger (Chad) might have disengaged from the sheer shock of helping to lift Bubba in the air.
“Branch me, this dude’s heavy!”
They flew apart, landed, turned their backs on one another. Bubba stayed close to the prized dogwood. Chad hopped around in an agitated manner, eyeing it, looking at Bubba, stepped closer.
In bird body language, Bubba rolled up the sleeves on his wings. Don’t ask me to describe this.
“You and what army, Chad?!” Bubba screamed—okay, chirped—and it was on again.
Chad went for the eyes. Bubba went for the butt hole. Chad went straight up into the air as Bubba scored a direct hit. Descending, he tried to headlock Bubba but, you know, Bubba’s head matches the rest of him and Chad didn’t have the claw circumference.
Bubba clearly thought the tree—and the girl it would impress—was a prize worth having. I began to wonder if Chad were actually after the tree, or the same cute little girl robin.
I’ll never know. As Chad and Bubba started round 3, a male cardinal flew into the dogwood. Watching the two robins tire themselves out, he clapped his wings in glee, shook his tail feathers, and emitted a cheerful song, translating thus: “Hey honey, it’s vacant! Come on down!”
A femme fatal cardinal arrived, svelte and poised, to perch on a higher branch. She eyed the fighting robins, rolled her eyes, and offered her man a tail feather flutter that sent him straight off his branch. By the time Chad and Bubba ended round six, the pair had a base going, he flying in with materials, she placing them in a secure branch fork.
Bubba finally saw Chad off, and turned, exhausted, to his prize. Mr. Cardinal puffed up and gave him a “whatcha gonna do about it” thousand yard stare. Mrs. Cardinal gave a sympathetic chirp, but couldn’t help adding, “Didn’t your mother teach you, fighting never solved anything?”
I haven’t seen Bubba since.