The BioGeek Memoirs: American Robin

I’m sitting out in my back yard this late afternoon listening to the songs of robins. What do they sound like, you ask? Check out this link with American robins singing.

I have a lot of robins in the yard this year. I see them on the fence, running across the front yard, pulling up insects and worms from the lawn after I mow and water in the evenings, and splashing in the birdbath in my back yard.

I just love the robins! They are kind of intrepid, don’t you think? Lots of birds hop around, but no, not robins: robins are runners! I watch them run across the road almost every morning while I make my latte, and then across the lawn with a “you bunnies had better get out of my way” attitude. I mean, they are running chests out and leading with their beaks! What could be a better way to start the morning? Be like a robin, tackle each morning at a run! Be sure you get your latte first, however…

I almost never see robins over the winter, but they are kind of early arrivers in the spring. More than once, on a March snowy day, I have walked out to the car to find half a dozen male robins in the trees, heedless of any snow on the branches, carrying on and singing like crazy as they compete with the other birds. These first groups of robins are called waves, and they really are a first sign of spring.

Robins do migrate south in the winter and return to the north in the spring, but evidently it isn’t a strict north/south pattern. When I was back in the biology classroom the students and I would be on the watch for the first signs of spring in a number of categories, and the sign that I like the most was the first robin seen. The first robin of spring was a big deal for the students, and we were really on the watch starting about the first week of March each year. Students started carrying cameras with them hoping to grab a great photo.

Toy robin given to me by a student to use in the classroom. The first robin of spring!!

What? You can report the first robin seen somewhere? Yep. We made our reports to Journey North, which is an educational website where first sighting of spring in a number of categories are reported by students across the nation. Here’s the page for the American robins, and you can see the mapped data with animation here. As you might guess, the first robins are seen towards the south of the US, but then as the season progresses, they are seen further and further north. What I really love about this is that the data shows (and this is data from students all over the nation!) is that robin migration isn’t simple and clear because they tend to spread out to find food and don’t always move south. In the spring, the food becomes available as the sunlight, longer days, and earth warming moves north, and the robins follow the food.

Back to my robins in the yard this year. The fledglings left the nest this week and they have been hanging out in my yard with the bunnies and squirrels.

These little guys are hanging out hoping that one of their parents will come feed them.

I tried to snap a shot of the male feeding them, but there was so much baby-bird food-begging action and wing flapping I couldn’t get a good one before the parent flew off. Still, how cool is this? They are not all that afraid of me and seem to like hanging out with the occasional baby bunny in that side of the yard.

This summer’s baby bunny is doing great!

I have bunnies again this year! The cats are beside themselves!

I half-jokingly told a neighbor last night that I might let the backyard become a meadow. The grass is now taller than the baby bunnies and I am seeing more wildlife than usual. I’m torn, because I am making good progress weeding out my gardens this year and if I let the grass get too long, I will need some type of special mower if I change my mind down the road. What if the baby bunnies need more food? It is tempting…

Nope. As soon as I post this the mower is coming out. Run bunnies, and fledgling robins, you had better take to the wing.

Author: Midnight Knitter

I weave, knit and read in Aurora, Colorado where my garden lives. I have 2 sons, a knitting daughter-in-law, a grandson and two exceptionally spoiled kittens. In 2014 I was diagnosed with a serious rare autoimmune disease called systemic sclerosis along with Sjogren's Disease and fibromyalgia.

14 thoughts on “The BioGeek Memoirs: American Robin”

  1. You have a like-minded soul in the UK, Marilyn – specifically England. You and she should be following each other’s blogs ! – so here’s your link to hers, to get that exchange going:
    You and she both are brilliant knitters, although she’s really a professional, and she specialises in what you do so much of (so well, too) – that knitting with several colours, the name of which has instantly fled my head. 😦
    She is Philippa, known as Phil; and fairly recently had breast cancer. With her usual wonderful humour and aplomb she dealt with it and now it’s water under the bridge. Twin boys, known as The Twinnage; and an obliging husband, aka The Stoic Spouse.
    I would so love for you and she to get to know each other; for I am perfectly sure that Phil would be thrilled – in a kind of way, if you get my drift – to learn about your scleroderma and how you manage it so well: she is a psychotherapist and fascinated by everything behavioural.
    You’re both very special in my eyes.

    1. I know Phil! I used to follow her on WordPress and then when she shifted to her new platform I kind of lost touch. I did know about Robyn the Robin (that bird eats right out of her hand!!), and I consider her to be much more gifted than I in the knitting and design areas. She crocheted a whole cottage with the gardens, for Pete’s sake!! I had no idea about the breast cancer. Oh, no. I will certainly track her down again and start following the new blog.

  2. And I completely forgot to say that the reason Phil leaped into mind is that she adores her robins ! She had a wonderful mother robin known as Robyn the Robin, and many photos of Robyn feeding on meal-worms from her hand ..

    1. Where I live there is no forest except for the conifers in the higher elevations (mountains) and I don’t think that there is food there. Poor robins. Ours have to fly south. I never saw a deciduous forest until I visited the American east coast as an adult; then I finally understood what they were about. Sort of. πŸ™‚

  3. So cool! We have a pair of hawks hanging out and have discovered that what sounded like ‘distressed hawk screaming ‘ a few days ago was a blue jay– they mimic the hawks so the hawks will fly out of ‘lurk’ mode and the jays can see them and avoid being breakfast! Who knew? always something new to find out!

    1. I have some extremely noisy jays hanging around my yard, and I never connected their behavior to the raptors flying overhead! We do have hawks in my area, but there is also the occasional eagle. We used to have a golden eagle nest in the neighborhood until a storm brought the tree down; the poor eagle ended up sitting on top of the house across the street from me. As you can guess, my neighborhood is bordered onto the edge of the eastern plains and farmland.

  4. I love seeing robins, too! And I think someone in my family had a matching toy robin stuffie at some point… I don’t remember which of us or why, but your friend looks so familiar that I know there was one in my house at some point.

    Such cute wildlife you have! I hope they all managed to get out of the way of the lawn mower.

    1. You know, when I brought the lawn mower out they all seem to vanish… The baby bunny was camped out under a shrub by the cats viewing windows last night so they got over it okay. πŸ™‚

      1. There are some gear heads constantly tuning cars and motorcycle enthusiasts in my neighborhood, so these guys really are resilient! The bunnies just ignore everything, and the robins sing on…

  5. As always, so interesting! We used to watch for robins in spring back in PA too πŸ™‚ That is a great website – thanks for sharing! Hope all your wildlife did OK getting out of the way of the mower?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: