You Still Got Robins in Winter?

Robin-on-Stump

I was at a park and saw about 100 robins sitting in trees with a foot of snow below. I was thinking that I wish I had some fruit to give them. Not having my camera, I went back the next day and only one robin remained. Granted, it really was snowing like the dickens, but where did they go?

As the weeks passed, the robins became fewer and fewer over the area, but some persisted through the worst ice and snow. It got me to wonder how they fared.

Robin-Berries-1

As you probably know, robins eat things like grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and what every kid knows, earthworms. What kid has not watched them tug and stretch a worm until it is freed from the earth? They bounce along in the grass, stopping abruptly with head tilted waiting to yank a worm from below. I read where one robin will eat 14 feet of worms a day.

Robin-Berry-Tree

Robins love gardeners too. We make getting worms a breeze for them.

Robin-Falls-2

Did you know that our American Robin is not the same species as the European Robin? Our Red-Breast is a thrush and theirs a flycatcher. They just look similar to each other with the blazon breast. Don’t tell the American Robin, but their robin is cuter.

Robin-in-Snow-2

Now that we got robin trivia out-of-the-way, so why the heck are they hanging around in winter? Well, because some of them just do. It all depends on the available food source and when it dries up, they move on.

Robin-Falls

The reason most people don’t see them is because they are no longer flitting across the lawn, but have moved to the trees of the forests. That is where the berries and fruit are found. So I found them about two and a half weeks later, maybe about 50 of them in the woods at Niagara Falls.

Robin-Berries

And with berries and fruit, comes some mighty intoxicated robins. If the fruit falls and ferments they still will eat it. There is a Mulberry tree behind my garage that makes many a creature wobbly on their feet. Squirrels have even fallen from this tree.

2-Robins-Berries

From the Cornell site, I read that robin roosts can be up to a quarter of a million birds in winter. That must be an amazing sight.

Robin-Berry-Tree-2

At the park today, I checked all the areas in the woods that I found robins earlier when snow was on the ground. Not one was to be found. But what I did notice was cardinals were in the same trees taking the same berries. Nothing in nature is wasted!

Cardinal-in-Berry-Tree

The barely noticeable female cardinal hiding in amongst the berries.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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30 Responses to You Still Got Robins in Winter?

  1. arlene says:

    Such beautiful capture Donna. Where have they gone?

  2. Patti Lee says:

    Yes, we’ve seen robins in so many places here in Michigan. I have them in my yard and they go to a bush near my deck and arborvitae where they feast on bright red berries. I was so shocked and worried about their welfare about 5 years ago with I first saw them and realized they must be doing well. February brings the Cedar Waxwings to the same bushes for their berry feast. A group/flock (?) of maybe 50-75+ spend a day or two in our yard….such a sight to behold!
    Thank you for your wonderful posts and magnificent photography! I am so impressed with your eye for the beauty of nature and am happy we are all the beneficiaries of your talent.
    Happy New Year!

    • Thank you very much for your nice comment, Patti Lee. My middle name is also Lee which I thought was an odd spelling for a girl, not Lea. I have quite a few arborvitae and never saw a robin eat anything. Robins nested in one of them this past summer though. I wish I got the Cedar Waxwings. They are a beautiful bird. I see them on my nature walks, just not in the city.

  3. I love robins! My understanding is that during the coldest months, in their northern range (which probably includes your area and mine), they tend to hang out around open water sources. There’s a fast-running spring at Madison’s UW-Arboretum that stays open even during the coldest days, and there are always many robins there. I rarely see them in my garden, even though there are many fruits on the trees. But we recently added a heated birdbath, so maybe I’ll see more robins this winter. The garden is full of other birds, but no robins lately. During the migration, I often have 100+ robin visitors in a day. They are fun to watch. Great post!

    • Yes they do Beth. i have a post on them in the Niagara River in -15 degree weather. I too have heated birdbaths and have seen robins in it in winter. You get a good number of robins. You are also on the most traveled flyway too. I wish we were so lucky.

  4. Emily Scott says:

    Our European robins must have different habits too, as they remain in our gardens over winter and become more noticeable once the leaves are off the trees. Here we notice our robins much more in winter, which along with their red colour is perhaps why they’re associated with Christmas.

  5. Denzil says:

    Goodness, I didn’t know our (Euro) robins were flycatchers! I thought they were in the thrush family, but you are absolutely right. Your robins look like a cross between our fieldfares and redwings (both of which are in the thrush family). I am learning so much from your posts Donna – also about European birds!

    • Thanks Denzil. I too did not know your robins were a different breed until I looked them up. When I was in the UK, I did not see many birds to my dismay. I could not believe I was seeing doves, pigeons and house sparrows. Not one robin. I did see the Queen’s birds though. She has quite a collection.

  6. aussiebirder says:

    A few of these pics look like paintings Donna, they are so beautiful!

  7. No, I haven’t seen any robins. Great photos!

  8. We have robins year round in Georgia. In winter they are robins that overwinter here from northern locations and in summer they are migrating from more southern regions. I don’t always see them in our garden in winter though. Nice captures of them munching on berries!

    • I would bet you get a lot of robins where you live. I know many from here go south. You have the 2 acre expanded landscape (am I right) which includes some woodland, so I bet you get a variety of our birds right now. Plus you planted a lot of plants for birds and insects.

  9. European robins are cuter but American robins have a better song!

  10. Vicki says:

    very interesting.. there are still robins where I live even though it is cold, but there are still berries, guess that is why.

  11. Amanda says:

    I’m in Colorado and I was shocked to see Robins still here in November and December! We are getting negative temperatures (down to -14) for some weeks. But they do seem to love our hawthorne tree and will scarf down berries like it’s nothing. I’ve contemplated putting out seed for them since I know food must be scarce.

    • I too feel for them. My seed mix also includes berries and fruit. But, it gets eaten pretty quickly by birds and squirrels. Robins seem a bit shy to feed with a mixed flock. Here is one of our robins in -15° weather. It was bathing in the Niagara River with a small flock of other robins.

  12. swo8 says:

    I always thought that the sighting of a robin was the first sign of Spring. We don’t seem to have any robins around at this point, Donna, but with the changing climate anything is possible now. You photos are lovely.
    Leslie

  13. Karen says:

    I didn’t see many robins when there was snow on the ground in New Hampshire. Each year when the ground started to thaw, there would be hundreds in our orchard. I think it was bug heaven for them. 🙂

    • The robins seem to hang out in the woods most often. I would bet the orchard did get a lot of birds. The insects like the new flowers and the birds need the insects to feed their young. Definitely bug heaven like you said.

  14. Beautiful photos, Donna! Each one so unique. Thanks for sharing! Loved them.

  15. Beautiful photos, as always. Such an informative post, too!

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