- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 25, 2009

This is a story about a fledgling family at America’s most famous address, an inspiring saga about new beginnings, the audacity of hope and perhaps even dreams from a father.

More specifically, it’s about a robin’s nest.

Associated Press photographer Ron Edmonds first spotted the bird, flitting into and out of a bush immediately to the left of the main door to the White House press briefing room - the room seen on TV most days, the one with the bright lights in which Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gets his daily grilling.

It’s a hugely high-traffic location, with reporters coming and going at all hours, and camera crews traipsing past, lugging tripods, lights and other heavy equipment out to the North Lawn.

Yet the female robin seemed utterly oblivious to it all - fearless, even. And soon, Mr. Edmonds, who heads the AP’s White House photo staff and is a Pulitzer Prize-winner with an eagle eye (sorry about that), figured out why: This red-breasted mom was moments from hatching half a dozen chicks.

So Mr. Edmonds set up his tripod early one morning and took a series of remarkable photographs. They show the pale blue eggs cracking and the chicks emerging, squinting, into the spring sunshine.

What motivated this mother robin to choose the White House grounds for a home - let alone this particular bush among the thousands of shrubs and trees on its 18 acres? Was it the closeness to the seat of power? Getting a bird’s-eye view of history (sorry again)?

Unlike some denizens of the West Wing, this bird’s not singing.

The briefing room has seen much history, from the defiance of Richard M. Nixon who first had it built over the swimming pool so reporters wouldn’t crowd the main West Wing lobby, to the joshing of George W. Bush, who oversaw the room’s multimillion-dollar refit.

For the briefing room’s mother robin, roosting outside this particular door can’t help but involve an element of hope - the kind that comes in making an unlikely home, or in the miracle of birth and the circle of life.

Meanwhile, the father seems somewhat less audacious. In fact, Mr. Edmonds reports, he’s hardly been seen. Is it too much to wonder if the chicks dream his dreams, too?

Soon, spring will turn to summer, the chicks will fly the nest and the robins will move on. But as robins are creatures of habit and instinct, this one likely will be back in the spring.

Helen Thomas, the veteran White House reporter, likes to tell the presidents she covers, “You guys come and go. We stay.”

So, it would seem, do the robins.

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