James C. Leupold - USFWS
American Robin American Robin
  • Challenge Questions
  • Robin Field Data
  • Journey North News
  • Ask the Expert
  • Related Resources

    Today's News
    Today's News

    Migrations and Signs of Spring
    Migrations and
    Signs of Spring

    Report Your Sightings
    Report Your Sightings

    Teacher Discussion
    Teacher Discussion

    Search Journey North
    Search Journey North

    return to:
    JNorth Home Page

    A/CPB Home A/CPB


  • Robin Migration Update: April 8, 1997

    Kara Elmquist and Colin Maher, Macalester College
    Here's a snapshot of this spring's robin migration, thanks to Macalester College students Kara Elmquist and Colin Maher. This map shows the extent of the migration as of April 1, 1997. Four colors were used to show how it progressed over time:

    Robin Sightings, Spring, 1997
    Before February 14 Red
    Feb. 15-28 Blue
    March 1-March 15 Yellow
    March 16-March 31 Green

    Robins are now crossing Canada with a vengeance. Since our last update, they've been spotted in a dozen new places there! You'll find the latest migration data below. Here are comments from some of our Canadian observers:

    "We surveyed 230 students in our school; of these 144 have seen robins over the past week," said Mrs. Warren of Lady MacKenzie Public School in Kirkfield, Ontario (44.5 N, 79 W) on March 30th. "There is still snow and ice on the ground, so many of the robins were seen perching in trees, particularly mountain ash and other fruiting trees. Today Mr. Morris, a teacher, saw many robins at a nearby conservation area, feeding on staghorn sumac." (lmps.journey-north@fc.vcbe.edu.on.ca)

    "Three of my students have sighted Robins in their yard this week," reported Leonard Hornung of Freeport, Nova Scotia on March 25th (lenhorn@auracom.com).

    Can you find Freeport on your map? What route do you suppose robins took to reach the peninsula of Nova Scotia?

    Challenge Question # 8
    "If a robin left land at Machiasport, Maine, how many miles of open water would it have to cross to reach Freeport, Nova Scotia?"

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

    Here's another robin report that will give you something to think about:

    "We are a third grade class in Crested Butte, Colorado. We have finally seen robins. On March 12 one was spotted but none were seen after that until March 23 when many sightings were reported. We still have lots of snow on the ground here at 9,000 feet. We are surrounded by tall very snowy mountains. Last weeks isotherm was 28F. Today it is snowing We plan to do lots of robin observation.. Do Robins and Red wing black birds compete for territory? Why do the Red winged blackbirds come so much earlier than robins?" (readypog@tomichi.ghs.gunnison.k12.co.us)

    Challenge Question # 9
    "Why do you think robins are so late to return to Crested Butte, given that their latitude (38.75 N) is not far to the north?"

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


    Just Think
    People all across North America now enjoying the robin's spring song. Let's pause for a moment and think about someone we should thank. Have you ever heard of Rachel Carson? If it weren't for her, and her important book "Silent Spring", the air might not be filled with the bird songs you hear today. Last year, Mrs. Allen's 4th Grade students in Pueblo, Colorado investigated the connection between Rachel Carson and backyard robins. Here's what they discovered:

    "Rachel Carson was a biologist and science writer who was concerned about the use of DDT because it poisoned the fish, birds and water. She helped make limits on the use of DDT. She is a hero. Robins were getting DDT from their food." Adam Wiseman & Sean Mc Nally, Mrs. Allen's 4th Grade class South Park Elementary Pueblo, Colorado garyt@csn.net

    How did DDT enter the robin's food chain? As you probably know, the robin's spring diet is primarily earthworms. In fact, robins often eat 10-12 earthworms in as many minutes! In the 1950's many people witnessed a frightening thing: The robins in their backyards were dying as soon as they arrived in the springtime. "Each wave of migrating robins would be eliminated in about a week. New arrivals would come in, only to add to the numbers of dead birds. Few birds were seen in their normal foraging activities or assembling in their usual roosts. Few nests were built; few young appeared." This was the question people faced:

    Challenge Question # 10
    "Exactly how was DDT getting into the worms robins were eating?"
    (Clue: Chapter 8: 'And No Birds Sing')"

    To respond to this question, please follow the instructions at the end of this report.


    How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions

    How to Respond to Journey North Robin Challenge Question # 8

    1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-robin@learner.org
    2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 8
    3. In the body of the message, give your answer to this question:

    Challenge Question # 8
    "If a robin left land at Machiasport, Maine, how many miles of open water would it have to cross to reach Freeport, Nova Scotia?"

    How to Respond to Journey North Robin Challenge Question # 9

    1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-robin@learner.org
    2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 9
    3. In the body of the message, give your answer to this question:

    Challenge Question # 9
    "Why do you think robins are so late to return to Crested Butte, given that their latitude (38.75 N) is not far to the north?"

    How to Respond to Journey North Robin Challenge Question # 10

    1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-robin@learner.org
    2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 10
    3. In the body of the message, give your answer to this question:

    Challenge Question # 10
    "Exactly how was DDT getting into the worms robins were eating?"
    (Clue: Chapter 8: 'And No Birds Sing')"

    Don't Forget!

    • Please include the name of your school and your location so we can credit you properly for your answers.
    • Please do not answer both questions in one message!

    The Next Robin Migration Update Will be Posted on April 22, 1997.