A Day for the Birds

Bill's Blog

The above pic. is one of four sent to us from Shelly Evilsizor in St. Joseph County. This is a pair of eagles making an appropriate pose for Valentine’s week.

Peregrine Falcon on the NE River House camera

This peregrine falcon came by our NE River House camera this afternoon. Here’s more on the peregrine falcons in downtown G.R.

I had a variety of birds at my home feeders today (and the usual trio of squirrels). While I don’t have a picture to share, there was a red-bellied woodpecker that pecked away at my suet. Right about the same time, a pair of cardinals showed up. I get more sparrows than anything else.

Robins eating berries in February

I’ve also had several pictures come in of robins in our area. Joyce and Al wrote: “Saw 5 Robins in my mountain ash tree this morning. Do they know something we don’t know about Spring in Greenville? Also, my goldfinches are starting to turn yellow.” and Paul S. wrote to tell me: “I saw a huge (20-30) flock of Robins today in Sparta! Clients of mine have reported seeing Robins as well.”

Range of the robin – yellow in summer, blue in winter and green yearround

The robin is a true American bird – found during at least part of the year in every state except Hawaii. In summer, robins fly north to the Arctic Circle from Alaska across Canada and still live south all the way to the Gulf Coast. In winter some robins fly all the way to S. Mexico and Belize.

Most Michigan robins migrate in winter down to the southern U.S, but a (usually small) number of them stay here through the winter. They get first dibs on real estate. I see them in winter when I visit Oak Ridge TN. Usually robins are pretty solitary, but in winter, especially late winter, they sometimes form flocks of several up to 40 birds here in Michigan.

In the warm season, they’ll eat worms and insects. It’s very rare to ever see a robin at a bird feeder, even when food is scarce in late winter. They often stick to the deep woods in early winter, where they are more protected from the cold, winter winds. Around February, as food gets more scarce int the forest, they move out to look for food and often eat berries from ornamental bushes and trees. I had a mountain ash tree for many years. One late February day, I looked out to see about a dozen robins eating the berries. They pretty much cleaned the tree of berries in an hour.

A couple of times I’ve talked on radio/TV about helping the robins during a harsh late winter by scraping off the snow from a grassy area and then spreading down dried berries. No guarantee that there will be robins that will find them, but I like to try and help.

The longest-living banded wild robin ever recorded survived 13 years and 11 months, according to the Bird Banding Laboratory at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. In captivity, robins have survived longer than 17 years.

Side note – I also remember writing about a leucistic (part-white) robin that they had tracked for five years that came back in the spring to Hastings/Grand Rapids.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Weather Tools