Why Does the Robin Sing?


For the third day in a row, I’ve been scolded by a belted kingfisher. It happened today when Aki and walked to the edge of the collapsed glory hole near Treadwell. There, gnarled pilings, the ruins of the old loading quays, poke up through sand manufactured almost 100 years ago by stamp mills. The sound of the mill’s great weights pulverizing gold ore would have blocked out off other sound on this beach. If they operated today, I wouldn’t have been able to hear the kingfisher’s angry lecture. He yelled at the little dog and I from an overhanging branch. After freezing up in place it dived into the glory hole to seize a sliver-bright herring in its spear-shaped beak.


While the kingfisher ate, Aki and returned to the woods mixed-hardwood forest were the sweeter songs of robin, wren, and thrush blocked out the sound of boat wakes hitting Sandy Beach. Wandering through such a saccharine cloud, I felt like a minor character in a Disney cartoon, where birds keep up their spirits by whistling while they work. I understand the purpose of the territorial kingfisher’s ugly squawk but why does the robin sing such an appealing tune?


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