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Linda Johns
Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, 1993. 129pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 155109-0554 CIP

Reviewed by Peter Croskery

Volume 22 Number 1
1994 Jan/Feb

When I first saw her, she was an eight-or-nine day-old robin fledgling crouched at the side of the road, and too young to be on her own... I carried her into the house with the intention of launching her in a couple of weeks; ...

Except that she never did leave, and that was a turning point in both our lives.

Thus arrived "County" in the author's life, and there she remained for the next several years. Sharing a Robin's Life is much more than another attempt to rehabilitate an injured bird. It is a record of a loving, intimate relationship between a wild bird and a caring human. And Johns has taken the time to document the details of this relationship.

For most of us who recognize the arrival of robins as the accepted rite of spring and have occasionally peered through the branches of a backyard tree and into a robin's nest, this book fills in all the gaps of robin life. From first-hand experience Johns not only details robin life history but also paints a picture of a robin's personality.

Writing in a somewhat anecdotal style, the author provides details on feeding preferences, nesting behaviour, song frequency, and territorial behaviour as displayed by her friend County. And, because she made a personal commitment to her feathered friend, the author made no attempt to suppress County's natural instincts.

Besides the fascinating record of robin behaviour provided in the book, I was intrigued by Johns' efforts to care for her bird. When County wanted live bugs for food, Johns spent days collecting insects. When she needed damp mud for nest building, the author provided an appropriate source. And, when County deposited infertile eggs in her newly constructed nest, the author, concerned for her friend's disappointment replaced them with fertile ones so that County could experience the joy of motherhood.

Reading the book one gets the impression that the author, rather than being simply a witness to nature, became a partner in wild life.

The book is a very enjoyable read, well written with lots of detail. The author has not got lost in a lot of interpretation of robin behaviour; rather, she has let the behaviour speak for itself, which I found refreshing.

All birders and students of wildlife will enjoy this book.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up

Peter Croskery is a biologist, freelance writer and instructor specializing in environmental issues in Grimsby, Ontario

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