For Shakespeare, the robin is a symbol of love. Speed, servant of Valentine in “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” notes that his master has of late been wandering around, his head in the clouds, relishing “a love-song like a robin-redbreast.” Just a week before Valentine’s Day, the robins have stormed the wintry gates of Manhattan, and this morning they seemed downright gleeful on the High Line. And there were tons of them.
I combed the Internet for an accepted collective noun to describe a bunch of robins, but can find no such word. There’s an exaltation of larks, a parliament of owls, a flight of cormorants, a convocation of eagles, a murmuration of starlings, a tiding of magpies, a pitying of turtledoves, a kettle of hawks, a murder of crows. But the little robin doesn’t show up on any of the lists. So I’m coining a word myself, in honor of the man from Sherwood Forest and all the early trespassers on the High Line. If you visit the park today maybe you will have the great joy of seeing it yourself: an outlaw of robins.
But if you’re hopelessly stuck behind your desk, let me share a few of these marvelous harbingers of spring. They are cavorting in the trees, singing their heads off. Unlike so many of our fellow New Yorkers (particularly during Fashion Week) these fine, feathered friends don’t crave an audience, but perhaps (like an ostentation of peacocks) they will enjoy your appreciation just the same.
[As always, click to enlarge an image.]