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James C. Leupold - USFWS American Robin

American Robin

Robin Migration Update: March 4, 1997

Reports of migrating robins are flying into the Journey North office! As you'll discover in reading the data chart below, 59 robins were spotted since our last report. Have you seen your FIRST robin of the season? We're ready and waiting for your report.

How to REPORT:
Simply press the owl button on the left-hand side of this page and a FIELD DATA FORM will appear. If you have any trouble using this system, send a message to our feedback form We'd be happy to help you!

Robin Watching
If you've already spotted your first robin of the season, don't stop looking! You can see many interesting things by observing robins carefully:

  • Watch for the return of the first female robins. The females' feathers are noticeably duller than those of the male. Compared to the males, the females look faded--like clothes that have been through the washing machine too many times. Count the number of days between the arrival of the first robin (presumably a male) and the arrival of the first female. Let us know what you discover by sending e-mail to: jnorth@learner.org
  • Which way was the wind blowing when the robins arrived? As you might expect, robins prefer to travel with the wind at their backs. Please include this information when you submit your report.
  • Give water to the thirsty travelers. You may be lucky enough to see this:

Mrs. Allen's class reported on 2/28/97 from Pueblo, Colorado, "There were 125 to 150 robins in and around Mrs. Allen's yard where she has a small garden pond. An ever- changing group of about 30 birds were drinking at a time. It was cold, about 15 degrees, and sunny. None of the adults we asked could ever remember seeing so many robins at once. Mrs. Allen says it was a wonderful thing to see and she doesn't think she will ever forget it!" garyt@csn.net

  • Watch for battles between the males. If you see one, send an e-mail message to Journey North and describe what you saw. There are stories of robins who battle their own reflections in a window-- sometimes to the point of hurting themselves!
  • Count the number of times a robin sings in 10 minutes. Birdsong is really a battle cry, used by the male robin to tell others he's defending an area. Birds sing far more frequently in the spring while setting up territories. If you were to spend 10 minutes listening in August it would seem very quiet.

Challenge Question # 4
"Why do you think male robins return before the females? What are the advantages and disadvantages of arriving early in the spring?"

To respond to this Challenge Question please follow the instructions at the end of this report.


Claudia Fonkert, Macalester College

Uriah McKinney, Macalester College

You're the Scientist
If you look in a field guide to birds, you'll find a "range map" like the map above on the left. The colors on the range map show where robins are "supposed" to be during the winter, year-round, and during the breeding season. Compare this range map to the map on the right. It was created from Journey North's winter robin survey data.

Challenge Question # 5
"What differences do you see between the Journey North data and the range map? How many reasons can you name that might explain these differences?"

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:
Please do not answer both questions in one message!

How to Respond to Journey North Robin Challenge Question # 4

  1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-robin@learner.org
  2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 4
  3. In the body of the message, give your answer to this question:

Challenge Question # 4 "Why do you think male robins return before the females? What are the advantages and disadvantages of arriving early in the spring?"

How to Respond to Journey North Robin Challenge Question # 5

  1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-robin@learner.org
  2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 5
  3. In the body of the message, give your answer to this question:

Challenge Question # 5
"What differences do you see between the Journey North data and the range map? How many reasons can you name that might explain these differences?"

Don't Forget!
Please include the name of your school and your location so we can credit you properly for your answers.

The Next Robin Migration Update Will be Posted on March 11, 1997