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

Cold, wet weather prevented a big push northward, but our maps show an increase in robin abundance. Explore "robin-speak" and tail wagging to see what your backyard robin might be saying!

This Week's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Photo Laura Erickson

Dogs aren't the only ones to wag their tails. What does this robin's body language say? Learn more about robin communication below!
The Migration: What's Happening Now & What to Watch For

What's Happening Now
The transition from winter to spring continues. The maps show the results of last week's cold, snowy, or rainy weather, which is now giving way to warmer temps. While robin distribution doesn't show a big push northward in the past week, robin abundance has increased. Do you see that clusters of dots are starting to fill in more solidly across the continent? Where do you see robins this week where none were seen before? How has northward progress changed from a week ago?.

But the long-awaited first true song was heard in Canada! It is also making happy news in more places, such as Macomb, IL: "Heard one singing his/her true song at dusk tonight! Boy, have I missed that song!" Get ready so you'll know when your robin is back!

Photo: GeriDeBoer

Photo: E. Howard
What are these robins doing, and why? 

What to Watch For
What do the robins do first after they arrive back on their territory in the spring? During fine weather, male robins spend their time singing, feeding, and investigating their territories. They may skirmish with other males. During cold or very wet weather, the males grow more silent. They concentrate on feeding and taking shelter in thick conifer branches so they can survive. Look and listen carefully. Can you see and hear these differences yourself?



Map Questions/Journal

Robin-Speak: What's the Meaning?

"Finally! After robins whinnying and tut-tuting all over the neighborhood, two broke out into delicate quiet song... so funny, as if it was their first time singing ever in their lives! Maybe it was! I'm so happy. Welcome, sweeties." MI first-grade teacher, March 13.

"Zeeeeup!" "Whinny!" Tut, tut, tut!" What do robins mean when they make these sounds? Listen to six distinct vocalizations and learn what they mean:

Learn to decode robin-speak!

Try This! Robin or Cardinal Song?
As the spring chorus of birdsong begins, some observers in some places think they hear an early robin when they are actually hearing the Northern Cardinal. Become an expert, while also learning the difference between songs, notes, calls and chips:

Calling All Questions: March 18 Ask the Expert Now!
Research Question and Links: Explore!

This Week's Research Question: How does a baby robin learn to sing the robin's song?

Other links to explore:

Please Report Your Sightings! Help us tell the migration story.
The First Robin You

Robins migrating in Waves

The First Robin You
Hear Singing

Your first sighting of Earthworms

More Robin Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Robin Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 22, 2011.