GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In the last two days, I’ve seen several robins. These robins may be new arrivals. The first birds to return in spring get first choice of real estate. Robins don’t generally visit bird feeders. They hop around on the ground and check out trees and old stumps for worms and insects.

The robins I saw may also have stayed here all winter, while the vast majority of robins migrate south, a small number stay here in Michigan all winter. The robin migration is more because of the scarcity of food in winter, rather than temperature. They tend to gather in groups during the winter and often remain deep in the woods where the wind isn’t as strong.

In the winter months, robins tend to eat fruit (berries). I remember a day in late February, when a flock of about 30 robins descended on my mountain ash tree and spent about 30 minutes devouring most every berry that was left on the tree.

Robins can sing in winter, but often wait until they settle in their breeding territory to start the chorus.

Pruning a Peach Tree

Driving around Alpine Township, I noticed several farmers out pruning fruit trees. Some farmers do this in the fall, after the fruit has been harvested, but most do it in late winter (February to mid-March), before the trees break dormancy.

Pruning is done for a number of reasons, among them to get the desired shape and size of the tree and to allow sunlight to reach into middle areas of the tree.

7 pm 3 9 22 at the Muskegon Channel

Here’s a pic. from the Muskegon Channel at 7 p.m. last evening. We still had a fair amount of twilight. A sure sign of spring is the increasing amount of daylight. Today (Thursday) the sunrise is at 7:03 a.m. and the sunset at 6:43 p.m., giving us 11 hours and 40 minutes of daylight, a gain of 2 hours and 39 minutes since the Winter Solstice occurred back on Dec. 21.

From March 12-26, we gain the most amount of daylight each day – 2 minutes and 56 seconds. Solar noon is now at 12:52 p.m., when the sun climbs to 47 degrees above the south horizon. On the Winter Solstice, the sun climbs to only 24 degrees above the southern horizon.

Snowdrops blooming at the Steffen house

And another sign of spring is my beautiful snowdrops – looking pretty in early March to the side of my front door. I’ll have snowdrops blooming there for 3-4 weeks. They really give me a lift – I’ve had lots of enjoyment from these early-season flowers for a tiny investment I made many years ago.