I was being watched. Every move I made, he was there. But I wasn’t worried – my harmless voyeur was an American Robin.
Such was my experience several years ago as a horticulture intern at Queens Botanical Garden. Though consumed with weeding the Fragrance Walk, I soon noticed the male Robin consistently underfoot, enjoying the insects exposed by my work.
I never fuss about in dirt all on my own – as I garden in my little urban farm, eyes are all around. While I add supports for the newly emerged sugar snap peas, a Red-winged Blackbird offers his advice from the fence.
Song Sparrows are happy enough to add a tune to the chores, but seem to have no interest in gardening tasks, keeping a healthy distance from the work.
Those Robins are never far as they look to scavenge a tasty treat, while the Tree Swallows zip around high in the air. Like the Song Sparrows, the swallows don’t show an interest in gardening but are quite happy to show off their aerial acrobatic skills. Northern Mockingbirds notice the weeds I missed.
Lady bugs are omnipresent audiences to my horticultural practices, and, later in the season, are joined by dragonflies, butterflies, and the Praying Mantis who will no doubt offer a disapproving look at my skills.
If I’m lucky, I’ll also stumble upon one of the two toads who took up residence last year.
And if I’m unlucky, one of the local rats will zip along the fence line, trying to be stealth as he maneuvers into a weedy area within my neighbor’s garden plot. Sorry, no photos of this critter -- he moves too fast!