All day long the robins have been in a state of high excitement. This morning the neighbors' redwoods and eucalyptus were shaking and fluttering with hidden activity and the sunlit air was alive with loud, rowdy birdsong. It took me a while but eventually I figured out what was going on, based on previous experience with robins and ivy berries.
I've seen it before. When the ivy is fruiting, the robins go crazy over the myriad clusters of small dark berries packed with nutrition and quick energy. The continuous twittering of the first arrivals seems to draw others and soon there are crowds of them swooping here and there. A tweet mob for sure. Occupy the ivy!!!
I could see thick twining vines of ivy snaking up the tallest redwoods -- that's where most of the activity was centered as fat birds dove in eagerly, dislodging others who flew up onto nearby eucalyptus branches.
Because neither redwood nor eucalyptus drop their greenery in winter it was hard to see the birds except in flight. But when I went back out in late afternoon the action had shifted to our yard. The skies had clouded over and, in the bare branches of the locust tree by the garage, plenty of plump, chesty silhouettes were visible against a luminous grey field of light.
The mood was much quieter. Most of the birds were too stuffed to do more than chirp -- or perhaps burp -- contentedly and wait politely for their turn to fly over to the small, ivy-covered plum tree.
Just a few birds at a time held sway in the spindly branches of the plum tree, occasionally dropping down into the mass of ivy for a few last tidbits. A fine closing to a fine day.