Field Notes

American Robin, A Spring Harbinger?

February 20, 2019

On cold, gray February days, our thoughts sometimes wander toward warmer temps and spring harbingers like the arrival of the American Robin. But the Robin isn’t a sure thing. There is much confusion surrounding this common and well-known bird’s wintertime habits — is it a year round resident or is it a snowbird? The answer is, it’s both!

Robins are more dependent on food than temperature, and certain flocks will fly north and back south depending on the amount of food available. In winter, robins rely heavily on fruit, while in warmer months they supplement their fruit diet with insects and other invertebrates that provide the essential protein they need to feed their fast growing young (robins often have two broods per year). So when you see robins this spring, don’t get too excited, they may change their mind and fly south again! But if they are happily gathering materials for and building nests, it’s a good sign spring is here to stay.

A more sure indication spring is on the way is woodpecker drumming. Learn about that here:

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