Robin Migration Update: March 13, 2012
Please Report
Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
Robins are returning, and citizen scientists are reporting another sign of spring: earthworms. They migrate only a few feet, but the timing of their emergence makes earthworms the unsung heroes of robin migration. This week's slideshow explores the robin-worm connection.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
A Wormy Connection
News: What's Happening Now & What to Watch For
What's Happening Now
Winter is giving way to spring as last week's storms are being replaced by warming temperatures. Reports of waves of robins have diminished and reports of first robin sightings and first songs have increased. No robins, in waves or singles, were reported at latitude 46° North or above. So, while robin distribution still doesn't show a big push northward, robin abundance has increased. Dots are filling in more solidly across the map of the continent.

Your reports tell us that robins are switching from berries to worms where worms are available, but robins in the north are still eating berries because of the snow cover.

The happy sounds of the long-awaited robin songs were prevalent along the 40-43 degrees North latitude, with a few song reports at 45° but no singing at or above 46° latitude.

  • Michigan, March 11: Woke up to robin morning song loud enough to be heard through closed windows.
  • Wisconsin, March 11: Just one bird. Flew into a tree, started singing. Hopped into the grass in search of food.

The robin season of robin song is just beginning. Get ready so you'll know when you hear your robin's song!

What to Watch For

As the snow melts and the sun warms the soil, watch how—and where—robins find earthworms. Also notice what the robins do first after they arrive back on their territory in spring.

  • Illinois, March 11: Have been watching for first robin for nearly 2 weeks. Last week's strong winds may have stalled their arrival. Got that sighting today when 2 males were having a dispute over territory.

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?

Male robin singing
Photo: Don Severson
Welcome Back, Boys!
Robin picks a mulberry to eat.
Photo: Don Severson
Big Gulp
Photo: Wayne Kryduba
New Menu!
Two adult robins
Photo: Laura Erickson
Leapfrog: Who Sings?
Robins skirmishing after returning in spring
Image: Andy Wilson
What's Up, and Why?
Slideshow: Earthworms and Robins Return
The arrival of the first robins is a welcome sign of spring and is often closely tied to the appearance of the first earthworms. What are citizen scientists reporting now?

  • Michigan, March 8: Our non-wintering male robins are coming back, and today I saw a very nice well colored male pluck a smallish-but-fat worm out of the front lawn.

How closely are the arrival of robins and the emerging of earthworms connected? Find out in this week's slideshow:

Cover of slideshow: Welcome Spring! Earthwroms and Robins Return
Welcome Spring! Earthworms and Robins Return

Ask the Expert Closes March 16.
Send questions now!

Waiting for Robins: Early Bird Contest
In the western interior of Alaska, students at Innoko River School in snowy Shageluk are eagerly watching Journey North's maps, making predictions for when their first robin will arrive. You can make predictions too. We call it the Early Bird Contest! When will the early bird reach the end of the trail?

STudents in Shageluk, Alaska, fill birdfeeders in deep snow.
Photo: Joyanne Hamilton
Waiting for Robins
Research Question: Worms: What's Wonderful?
"After an overnight rain, my driveway was covered by half-drowned earthworms," wrote an Indiana observer on March 8. Do you wonder why worms come out after it rains? We hope you'll discover at least three wonderful things about earthworms as you search for the answer in our FAQ!

Latest Maps: Where Are Robins Now?
These maps show where people have reported robins and earthworms. Patterns emerge as citizen scientists report their observations. Journal page: What do you notice this week as you compare the week's average-temperature map with sightings of earthworms?
Robin Migration Map: First Robin Robin Migration Map: Waves of Robins Robin migration map: First robins heard singing Earthworm migration map
First See

Report Your Sightings! What, Where & How
First robin of spring Waves of robins Singin robin First earthworm of spring
The First Robin You

Robins migrating in Waves

The First Robin You
Hear Singing

Your first sighting of Earthworms

The next Robin migration update will be posted on March 20, 2012.