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Old 03-13-2014, 05:33 PM   #1
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Default Frequently Asked Questions about Robins: Wintering

Frequently Asked Questions about Robins: Wintering
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Frequently Asked Questions about Robins: Wintering
Q. What do robins wintering in the north eat?

A. Robins switch diets in fall. They turn from earthworms to berries and other fruits. Because some forms of fruit (such as mountain ash berries and crab apples) remain available all winter long even in the north, a few robins can stay in an area with food enough to support them all winter. These robins are most often found in areas where there is a bit of open water from a nearby spring, stream, river, or large lake, and where there are fruit trees. The water and fruit get them through the season.

Q. Doesn't a robin know enough to migrate south? I live in Canada (or one of the northern states). There is a robin wintering in my neighborhood.

A. Robins are a migratory species, but their migration is far more complicated than simply a shift southward. There seems to be a great deal of individual variation in where they spend the winter, though males are far more likely to remain in the north than females. There are good reasons. Come spring, the male’s main job is to find and defend a territory. The females’ main job is to create and lay the eggs. This requires a lot of good nutrition and food energy, so females go where they are sure of good food supplies in winter. Yes, they have to use up food energy to migrate north. But migrating and laying eggs are easier for well-nourished birds.
Q. Won't the cold hurt robins? There are robins staying in our town in Ontario all winter. Next week the temperatures are supposed to be lower than 20 below zero...
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:21 PM   #2
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The cluster of robins that were hanging out near my mountain ash and open water moved on after nearly two weeks of feasting upon the trees.
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:08 PM   #3
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Robins have been here all winter. Now that we have had a little bit of warmer weather they are everywhere.
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:16 PM   #4
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This makes me want to look into mountain ash.

The other day I saw at least a dozen robins in the yard. I know they can overwinter; I learned that from my 9th grade Biology teacher...so I'm still looking for the first red-wing blackbird to show up as my true sign of spring.
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:08 AM   #5
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I've had red wings for the past couple of weeks mobbing my feeders. Also a lot of cowbirds. Red Wings, are already staking out their territories, and I've had Robins, Cardinals, and Song Sparrows singing. A couple of weeks ago I was out at the NWR and almost everything was still frozen and ice and snow covered, but there was one thawed puddle with a lot of robins bathing in it. I sat in my car and watched them for about a half hour. Here at the shore the official announcement of spring for me is a laughing gull standing on top of a telephone pole, shouting "I'm B-A-A-A-A-C-K"! for the whole neighborhood to hear.
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:01 AM   #6
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I saw a male Towhee today singing its heart out on my bike ride into work.
Huge flocks of robins spend all winter in my Virginia neighborhood.
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:02 AM   #7
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The coolest spring sign I've seen yet was hundreds of wood frogs mating and two spotted salamanders heading down to a vernal pool at a nature center near my house.
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
This makes me want to look into mountain ash.
My ash started out as a cute pretty leafed something of a volunteer.
I moved it into a place of its own to see what it would mature into. One day after leaf fall a few years back I saw a very bright orange spot sitting in what now was a young tree. My first thought was.... it must be a bird, perhaps a cardinal and went about my housework or whatever it was that drew me away.

The next day it was still there. I asked the kids what they had hung in my tree. They both just grinned at me... leaving me there wondering what it was they had added to the tree...I thought it to surely be a red ribbon tied to its branches.

One day while near the tree, I took a look at it. It was the most beautiful clump of berries I ever did see. Nothing so bright ever hung from anything I've planted... Needless to say, it is now very large, still attracting my attention with its interesting foliage bearing a FULL crop of glossy crimson beauties every fall.... I just LOVE what my little volunteer turned into.

I've always made room for the unknown....Once they mature it is THEN I decide if it's worthy to keep or pull free.
Queen of the prairie was yet another real beauty of a volunteer I now have. Some of the others...Just weeds.
You just never know where that diamond in the rough is. Ahhhhh The joys of plant-motherhood!
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:53 PM   #9
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Havalotta, you lucked out with queen of the prairie and the mountain ash. I'd love to see it (mountain ash) growing wild--I've only seen it in a neighbor's yard while growing up...at the time I thought it was an ornamental.

I did see queen of the prairie once growing wild.
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:58 PM   #10
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I expect "my" red wings to show up anytime now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arey View Post
Here at the shore the official announcement of spring for me is a laughing gull standing on top of a telephone pole, shouting "I'm B-A-A-A-A-C-K"! for the whole neighborhood to hear.
~smile~. Funny.

I had no idea that gulls weren't around year round.
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