Give a little whistle…

Every morning, one of my first jobs when I go to my son’s home is to feed the four cats… none of which he owns, but all of whom come for breakfast every day… feed the fish in the pond and feed the birds. Although his home is in the middle of town, his garden is surrounded by trees that are home to an incredible variety of feathered residents and teh occasional squirrel too.

From the ever-hopeful heron, to the ravens, jackdaws and magpies, the blackbirds, woodpeckers and thrushes, right down to the chaffinches, bluetits and wrens…we have seen generations of birds fledge and grow. Red kites wheel overhead every day…and every day the robins potter around the garden.

If you are working there, the robins will follow you, exploring every bit of turned soil as soon as you move away…and you don’t need to move very far. They come close enough to touch should you stretch out a hand.

The birds…apart from the potential interspecies disasters where fish, birds and cats are concerned, are a constant source of delight.

The robins, though, are something special. There are always robins, wherever I go and they are always curious and brave enough to come close… but not all of them talk to me.

As I go out to feed the fish, they hear my footsteps and are waiting for me. As I go out, I whistle…a particular little sequence of notes… and if the robin is around, he whistles back. Then he waits, head on one side… until I answer… and he answers me again, and so it goes.

The past few days, he has not been in the tree when I have gone outside, but I have whistled anyway, just in case he was out of sight…he is only tiny after all and could easily be hidden by a branch. But every day, he has flown in from the trees across the path, taken up his position, then whistled and waited for a reply.

He has an extraordinary vocal range! I do my best and fail miserably to match his skill with his trills, catches and chirrups. But the song and response can go on for as long as I can stay outside.

I have no idea what we are saying to each other… he must be laughing at my ‘pronunciation’ and ‘grammar’… This is not just a foreign language, it is completely alien to me, yet that we are, somehow, communicating, I have no doubt. And of all the gifts I have been blessed with this year, talking with a robin is one of the most beautiful.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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17 Responses to Give a little whistle…

  1. phillister says:

    Beautiful little story, in France we get the odd robin too, they are beautiful, only thing is our cat is very fond of leaving us presents by the door.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How lovely Sue. We had a variety of birds visit the cottage garden, and of course on the marina we had the addition of swallows and water fowl. Hubby has bought me a bird feeder gadget using any plastic bottle as the main container and we hope to attract a few into the garden here. I already have a regular pair of blackbirds, and have seen a couple of robins on my walks round the avenue. Whether we’ll strike up a conversation is yet to be seen (or heard). Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your robins and our share the red breast, but otherwise are entirely different birds. I think our are actually thrushes and are rather a bit bigger than yours. But our sing beautifully too and if ever you are suffering from an infestation of grubs, hoards of robins will show up and eat all the grubs. It’s amazing. Some people poison them. We just wait for the robins 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jennie says:

    What could be better than talking with a bird? Oh, my! Today we FaceTimed with our daughter in Oregon. She has two parrots who are “free range”, flying in the house and the yard, only going into their cage to eat, poop, and sleep. She is gifted with music and art, so she sang a Christmas song to the bird as we watched. That bird chirped and nodded along, like he was the back-up singer. She has the touch, and so do you. What a gift. Lovely story, Sue. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erik says:

    Terrific, Sue! What kind of birds are the black and white ones, second from last?

    I have a suspicion that your robins are different from what we call robins:

    And, though we had parrots growing up, and we often took them out of the cage under our watchful eye, they were not free range. I would have loved that!


  6. Widdershins says:

    I have regular conversations with the crows and bluejays who frequent out front yard. Conversations with our avian dinosaur friends is something special isn’t it? 😀


  7. macjam47 says:

    What a beautiful story, Sue. I love watching the birds in our yard, They are not as plentiful here as they were at our last house – perhaps because of all the construction in the neighborhood. I enjoy whatever birds stop by.


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