Robins for Thanksgiving

The Robin ‘Hood show is starting. Nashville ‘hoods keep robins all year, but we get an influx of winter robins, too, and right now all the robins are appearing in a hackberry near you.

November is the month I love hackberries all the more. 
And, it’s the month hackberry haters hate them all the more. 
The same reason explains both: ROBINS.

The Sidewalk Nature pic below is another Robin “hood:” the hood of a car. Surely the driver must was from out of town, because locals know better than to park under a hackberry full of robins.


Hackberry berries are super-nutritious and this year, super-available. Last year was a crap year for berries, no pun intended. I couldn’t rustle up a handful of sweet, garnet berries from a single tree in my neighborhood.
I worried about robins and waxwings and other birds who rely on fruit and invertebrates in winter, and who cannot eat the seeds we put in our feeders. 

The botanical word for hackberry berries is drupes. Drupes are stone fruit, as are cherries, olives. Hackberry drupes are almost ALL stone, but the thin, outside layer is sweet and smoky. 
Try one? And tell me what you think?

The pit is tasty, too, but I advise you to spit it rather than risk a trip to the dentist: the “shell” is very, very hard.


If you have a hackberry in your yard, do yourself a favor and put one or two big saucers of water directly on the ground. And then, in the morning, after the sun has popped over Next Door’s roof and makes it down to the saucers, go sit and watch. 

(Do not sit directly under the tree…)

My four hackberries and three bird baths give robins a Happy Hour each morning. They gobble hackberries above and flit below for a drink and a bathe.
Not without drama: they squawk and call and carol and fight.
It’s fascinating to see two robins face-off over a saucer;
and darting with open beaks like double daggers.
And then a Bluejay will interrupt, and all the robins disappear, poof!

Watching robins drink what I’ve offered, and take a bath in what I’ve offered makes me feel I’ve helped someone, somehow.
We don’t always get such instant feedback from our actions.

I’m sure the robins are GRATEFUL.

Not like some people. . .

Like the one for whom I made French toast this morning and who, in a tone of surprise said, “French toast. Nice. When’s the last time I got THAT?”

“Last Monday, you moron,” I told him. “You get French toast every Monday. It’s how I apologize for calling you a moron.”

Thanksgiving will be very small this year in terms of who eats inside my house. But at least I can host a Thanksgiving buffet for the robins in my yard. 

And for this, I am grateful.

photo credits: American Robin, by Pierre Selim, wikimedia CC.
All other photos copyright Joanna Brichetto.


My Instagram posts are 100% nature, and most of it the Sidewalk kind.

I’m not fond of facebook, but some people aren’t on Instagram, so I post nature things there from time to time.

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Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.

She writes about everyday natural wonders amid every habitat loss, and her essays have appeared in Creative NonfictionBrevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals.

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