Migration Update: February 15, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

As record-breaking blizzards swept across the nation, reports of migrating robin flocks flew across our maps. Tens, hundreds, even thousands of robins—were on the move. Find out what observers saw—and look for reasons why these winter wanderers travel in flocks.

This Week's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Why do robins travel together in winter?

Photo: Diane Sickles

The Migration: What's Happening Now & What to Watch For

What's Happening Now
Robins are nomadic during the winter months. These winter wanderers move in response to food supplies and harsh weather. Most robins travel in flocks. Each time a new snowstorm hit during the past two weeks, people reported waves of robins—tens, hundreds, even thousands of robins—on the move. According to observers, most of the flocks are concentrated in the southern states and along the Atlantic coast. And yes, robins are a migratory species, but their migration is not a simple shift southward. This is why changes in our migration maps seem haphazard in late winter. There's a lot to discover about robin migration!

What to Watch For
Watch for a shift in robin behavior as temperatures warm and the breeding season approaches. Males will sing the robin's true song when they arrive on their breeding grounds and become territorial. A robin's song says: "This is my territory, so keep out!"

  • When and where do you predict robins will start to sing first?
  • Males arrive on territory before females. What might explain that?

WAVES of Robins


Map Questions

Focus: Why Do Robins Form Winter Flocks?

Read Discoveries Made by Citizen Scientists
Robins are on the move! Observers reported more large waves of robins during the past two weeks than other types of robin sightings. That will change, but first let's see what we can learn from observers' comments about those waves. How could traveling in waves or groups help robins survive?

1. Collect the facts in these observation reports from citizen scientists.
2. Study the photos: Winter Robin Gallery.
3. Respond to a journal question.

Learn More from our Robin Expert
For robins, traveling in flocks is important in wintertime. Do you wonder why males don't sing their true song while in flocks — but usually wait until they're back on territory? For more about flocks, see:


Research Question and Links: Explore!

This Week's Research Question: What question can you ask our robin expert that has never been asked before?

Other links to explore:

Please Report Your Sightings!
The First Robin You

Robins migrating in Waves

The First Robin You
Hear Singing

Your first sighting of Earthworms

Wayne Kryduba

More Robin Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Robin Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 1, 2011.