The American robin with its beautiful warm, orange breast is a sight for sore eyes during the grey days of winter. It is often thought of as a harbinger of spring, but many will remain on the Peninsula during the winter.
Most American robins migrate to warmer climes in the fall, returning early in the spring, but many stay on the Peninsula if food is available. If there is a good source of fruit and berries, robins can survive quite well in colder climates.
I have been seeing many robins in the last few weeks, all feeding in fruit bearing trees and shrubs. Honeysuckle berries, crabapples, haw-thorn, holly and juniper berries are some of their favorite fruits. The American robin is a member of the thrush family, and as such, has a characteristically short, broad-based bill suitable for feeding on insects, berries and other fruit (Cornell Lab.).
In the spring when robins are on territory and nesting we generally see them in pairs, but in the fall and winter we see them in flocks. The American robin is unusual in the bird world in that its nesting and feeding behavior is easily noticed. Birds on the nest are often quite visible, and they are always seen hunting for earthworms on lawns during the spring and summer. Robins gather in large communal roosts and foraging flocks in the fall and winter, at which time they may decorate fruit laden trees to eat the fruit, which have become their main diet.
This most familiar bird of North America is abundant from spring until fall on the Long Beach Peninsula. They are less plentiful in winter, but seen regularly. The Pacific County field checklist records them as common in all seasons.
The American robin is not only popular, but is also an extraordinary bird, because it nests in our big cities as well as in the wilderness. In addition, it is one of our most familiar and most loved birds. I think we all look forward to seeing and hearing our first robin of Spring. It’s clear, cheery, musical whistles are a delight. The American robin buoys our spirits and tells us that new growth and warmer weather is on its way. It is indeed a harbinger of spring, but it is also a most welcome sight in winter.
“Common Birds of the Long Beach Peninsula,” by Kalbach and Stauffer is available from the Chinook Observer, Bay Avenue Gallery, Time Enough Books and the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.