The robinettes await Mama Robin’s return with dinner. The usual clutch size is four eggs, but this time she only laid three.

Snow and frigid temps notwithstanding, spring is here. I know, because the calendar tells me. I know, because the sun now sets farther north than it did in winter. I know, because the ladybugs are coming out of hiding. But mostly I know, because Mama Robin is back.

There’s a lot of discussion about robins in spring. People look out and see fat red-breasted birds hopping in the yard and they view it as a sign of the season. Maybe it is, and maybe not. We see robins all winter here. In mid-January, I’ve seen a small flock of them noshing on the red berries of our Washington hawthorn trees.

Robins will remain in northern climates if they have an ample food supply. Most of the robins that we see here in winter are likely migrants from more northern locations, but some will be year-round residents. Many that we see here in summer will fly a bit south for the winter. Since we really can’t tell which of these we have, seeing robins in spring is not a reliable harbinger.

Two years ago, we had a female robin make a nest in the ornamental weeping cherry tree that’s near our front door. She thought it was a good spot obviously, and perhaps it was, in terms of predators. I had to give Mama Robin props for being brave.

I need to be careful about anthropomorphizing wildlife, but perhaps she wasn’t merely brave, but smart. Sure, humans come and go at the front door, but not much of anything else ventures so close to such a busy location, save for a spider or two and the moths and mosquitoes their webs ensnare.

That summer, she raised one clutch of babies there. It was fun to be able to watch the eggs hatch and grow so big you wondered how they stayed in the nest. Then one by one, they fledged. First, by hopping onto a nearby branch, assessing if and how they were going to manage that first flight.

Last spring, with the old nest still in place, Mama Robin returned. She built another layer of nest on top of the first, creating a nice little double-decker one. She laid the usual four eggs, one each day, but before all was said and done, only one egg remained to hatch and reach maturity. We aren’t sure what happened to the others.

Later in the summer, she had another clutch, this time with only three eggs. All three successfully reached maturity and we didn’t see Mama Robin at the nest the rest of the summer. Late last fall, rain and wind managed to topple the nest out of the tree.

Last week, I noticed the beginnings of a new nest in the same location of the weeping cherry. Mama Robin was back! This week, she’s refining the nest with grass, small twigs, and mud. Flying back and forth with her construction materials, she sets off our Ring doorbell on occasion. We don’t mind.

Any day now, I expect to see the first egg appear. The mourning doves are nesting too. Though I’ve only seen a killdeer nest once, I’ve no doubt those are out there in the open fields. The spring ephemerals are blooming, and the familiar fresh scent of spring is in the air. Oh, how I’ve missed you, spring. Welcome back.