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Friday, January 15, 2010

Robins Migrating, Stokes Feeder Friday

American Robin eating crab apple fruit in our yard.

Robin flock wintering in FL drinking out of a puddle.

Robin in FL eating the fruits of Sabal Palm tree.

What's the deal with robins migrating and being seen in the north in winter? American Robins are being seen now in NH. We had 7 in our yard this morning. Yesterday we had some eating our Prairie Fire crab apple trees. Robins are a species that form into flocks and wander widely in winter. Most go to southern areas, such as FL, where they feed off many kinds of fruits and berries, including small fruits of palm trees.

Some flocks may stay in northern areas and wander, looking for fruits and berries. So they may show up unexpectedly in many northern places area in winter and have people wondering, "what are robins doing in (fill in the northern state name) now, I though they were supposed to go south?"

Robins eat lots of berries in winter when the ground is frozen and they cannot get insects or worms. You can attract robins and help them in winter by planting crab apples in your yard. We plant several kinds, including Prairie Fire, whose fruits seem to last into winter, because they are not eaten in fall as much as our other crab apple species. Maybe they ripen to softness later. So they're a good tree to supply robins food in mid-winter. In winters when even the Prairie Fire crab apples have been eaten and hungry robins are here in a March snow storm, we have put out raisins and the dried red cranberries called "craisins" and robins have appreciatively gobbled them. Robins also like water to drink at any time of year.

Robins are frequently included in surveys of bird feeding even through they do not really eat bird seeds. Maybe it is because they are seen so frequently in yards that do have bird feeders.

Hope this clears up some of the mystery of Robin migration.


evening said...

Any ideas why robins wouldn't eat my Donald Wyman crabapples last (late) winter?

There were many, and the robins ate my neighbor's crabapples (not sure which kind). They'd then go to my tree and just sit and look around. No eating.


Anonymous said...

I was told by an ornithology professor at Antioch New England that it's actually a myth that Robins migrate. I'm told many do stick around these parts (I am from southwestern NH) and other northern areas, though you are corect, many do wander further south. But my understanding is that it is not so unusual to see them here at all.

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Karen left this comment about robins,
We have 100s of thousands of Robins in our area and have for the last month. I live about 20 south of Dallas in Midlothian, TX. They are all over the ground about an hour prior to sunset and then move to the cedar trees for cover over night. Serioulsy thousands of them over a 2 mile stretch- I love this time of year. I can't wait to see the Cedar Waxwings that join the festivites in February.

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

We used to have Donald Wyman crab apples in MA and the birds did not eat them nearly as much as they ate the Zumi crab apples. We are not sure why, but we know some crab apples seem to be preferred over others, and at different times of year. Here, out Sargent, Robinson and Zumi crab apples are eaten first. Then Prairie Fire later in winter.

It is awesome to see thousands of robins down south. We have seen them in the thousands on Sanibel Island, FL.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog. I have a lot of fun with the 3 in 1 platform feeder, very versatile. Any chance of this feeder ever acquiring an over hang roof that would help keep seed dry and be roomy enough for jays and doves? Maybe even detachable somehow on the four corners? Feb. 3rd for my dad's birthday may be too soon to hope for, but if you had something like this that you could still post high or low, plus hang, I would snatch up a few!

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Thanks for the idea about the roof on the Stokes Select 3-in-1 Platform Feeder. Fortunately it has drainage holes so the seed stays dry in rain. Doves, cardinals and our juncos are enjoying it.

michael weaver nj said...

i was wondering why i had about 100 robins in my yard in late jan in nj i dont have any berries growing but i do put out a couple of suet feeders and some seed

Kimberly said...

hundreds of them in my trees at this very second. Love everything except the deposits on my WHITE car! Never ever seen them like this before!

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

They may have been there because they were resting and on their way to an area that did have more berries. Or, if the ground was unfrozen, they might attempt to get food in the ground. Or you may have had cedar trees, they eat cedar berries also.

Anonymous said...

I have about 50 in my yard in the Texas Panhandle...they are eating the berries off my cedar trees...wonder why? I tasted one of the berrie and they are yuk..does anyone know why they flock to the trees and eat these berries