Sensitive Girl and the Robin’s Nest

One of our resident robins in the mulberry tree, opening her beak to cool off on a hot day

One of our resident robins in the mulberry tree, opening her beak to cool off on a hot day

Note: This is a follow-up to my post on June 30 about the nesting robin, so if you haven’t read it, you might want to go back and start there. (A Robin Nesting in my Yard!)

This is one of those situations where my HSP temperament is a challenge as well as an asset. Once I discovered the nesting robin in our yard, of course I wanted to watch her progress. Now I keep my binoculars on the kitchen counter so I can look at her every time I go in there. I worry about her in bad weather, which we’ve had a lot of lately. I worry about the squirrels and blue jays that roam our yard, because they’re known to pillage nests like this one. If something happens to the nest I’m going to be heartsick. I already feel a bond with this mama robin and a bit of responsibility for her too.

Robin journal v1This deep empathy with animals is something a lot of HSPs share. It can bring us great joy and a satisfying feeling of connection. But it can also be very painful because we can easily imagine ourselves in their place. I have certain memories of animals in pain or suffering that have stayed with me for years and that can still make me tear up when I think of them. Just hearing an animal crying in pain can make my heart hurt for hours. Even knowing an animal is afraid upsets me, regardless of whether she’s actually being hurt. The vet’s office is like a war zone for me. Sometimes while I’m in the waiting room I can hear cats wailing in the back room while they’re being attended to. It’s bad enough when it’s someone else’s cat, but when it’s my own cat I just want to crawl under the table and cover my ears. Unbearable.

Robin journal v2Sometimes I think animal suffering upsets me more than human suffering. Those tv commercials that show abused animals upset me more than the ones showing starving humans. I know you might be judging me harshly for that, but I can’t help how I feel. I’m very uncomfortable admitting that to the rest of the human species, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are many of us out here who feel this way. And the thing is, I’m not exactly sure why I feel differently about them. Maybe it’s because I see the animals as so much more vulnerable and innocent. Yet I realize that lots of humans are also vulnerable and innocent. So what’s the difference?

Robin journal v3Maybe it comes back to my relationships with humans, which, for the most part, haven’t been as fulfilling and pure as the ones I’ve had with animals. For example, animals have never been spiteful or cruel to me, whereas humans have.  No animal has held a gun to my head, but a human has.

Or maybe it’s because I know that animals of all species are completely dependent upon the whims of mankind — we destroy their habitats, we trap and enslave them in prisons (zoos) for life, and we do cruel experiments on them to develop medicines for our own species. They are 100% at our mercy, with far too few legal protections.

Robin journal v4Yes, I think that’s it. I see them as intensely vulnerable, and maybe in some way that reflects on how I see myself. I feel a kinship with them that goes very deep, and I want to protect them whenever I can. So if you see me running across the yard shouting at a squirrel, don’t worry about my sanity — I’m just protecting “my” robin from a nest raider.

P.S. Don’t miss the Nesting Journal entries in the blue boxes above — there’s a surprise in there!

This entry was posted in Birds, Highly-Sensitive People (HSPs), Nesting and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sensitive Girl and the Robin’s Nest

  1. Jen says:

    Good morning… I’m a new birder near you in SE MI and recently aware of my HSP status (what a relief to have an explanation) – pleased to have had your blog recommended to me. How interesting to read here about your empathy with animals! It resonates. I’m a little sad remembering the creature sights and moments that have brought me to tears in my life just as you describe, and I’m also so overwhelmed at the vet. Other owners and clinic employees who show extraordinary kindness for nervous or scared critters make me so grateful, when they soothe as I wish I could.

    Your comments on vulnerability are absolutely on point.

    Very nice blog!

  2. Humans can be cruel and animals aren’t, they just do what is necessary for them to survive and reproduce. I relate to how you worry and connect with your Robins. being in nature has been healing for me and I revel in it.

  3. Littlesundog says:

    Kim, we are so much alike in our feelings about animals and birds. I understand completely what you’ve stated in this post. I’m rather sad about the disappearance of Daisy deer’s little buck. I’m so heartbroken for Daisy, and her own injuries from fighting off a possible bobcat. When something like this happens in nature, it really tears me up. As you stated about some old memories about animals… you just never forget. I always try to find something to learn from the experience. The animal doesn’t struggle or die in vain, if we learn.

    I’m hoping all goes well for both Robins and their little ones. Birds are so much fun to watch! I bet you’re out there worrying when they become fledglings!

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