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American Robin Migration Update: April 20, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

News from Northern Observation Posts
  • Peace River, Alberta: (56.25N -117.28W) Irene Gordey wrote, "A few robins arrived April 12th, I heard the first one singing this morning, April 15th. We seem to have many juncos around. The geese have been here since March 27th, crows were here around March 25th. This week (April 12th) the mallard ducks are seen. The Peace River ice broke out Saturday, April 3rd. Our tulips, iris, lilies are up. It looks like a good spring.
  • Minden, ON (44.93 -78.72) near Madoc, Ontario (44.51N -77.47W) Trevor Pawson reports his first robins on April 4, 1999.
  • Red Deer, AB (52.15 -113.9) near Calgary, Alberta (51.02N, -114.05W) The eighth grade at Glendale Middle School reported their first robin on March 25, 1999.
  • Winnipeg, MB (49.53 -97.08) On April 7, 1999, Ms. Yallits wrote, "First I heard its song and then I sighted my first robin of the season sitting high atop a newly budded maple tree. Roughly a hundred meters later, I saw another, also singing its little heart out."
  • Pinawa, MB (50.13 -95.88) Shirley Bell reports that robins arrived April 7,1999.

Robins in Haines Face Snowstorm
Haines, Alaska (59.24N -135.43W) Pam Randles reports the first robins are back, and "We are now getting some of the other songbirds. I can hear them in the trees. I don't recognize each of them, but I know they are migrants because they are not here the rest of the year. I saw an Oregon junco and a song sparrow. Swans and geese have begun to return. We are starting to see pussy willows and our tulips have emerged, at least some have. The lady next door has crocuses blooming and buds are on the lilacs. Our days are now 14 hours long, compared to 8 hours in February. And we have had our first few tourists. The weather has been very moody. This week we had a couple of days of rain and a couple of beautiful warm, sunny days and one day of a bad snowstorm that closed the highway. Many of us have spring fever and are restless to get outdoors.

Farther North in Sterling, AK
Sterling, Alaska (60.52N -150.80W) Kelly and Liz in Ms. Hepner's class wrote: "Here's our list of signs of spring in Sterling, Alaska:
  1. Puddles are forming
  2. Ice is breaking up
  3. Roof snow is melting
  4. Base/Softball season is starting
  5. Buds on trees are forming
  6. More daylight.
  7. Dirt on the ground
  8. Temperatures warmer.
  9. Snow turns to rain.
  10. Studs come off tires

From the FAR North
Anchorage, Alaska (61.22N -149.90W) On April 16, 1999, Mike Sterling wrote, "The robins haven't arrived in Anchorage--that's for sure! There are signs of spring, however: the geese have arrived! Overnight, the geese had descended on their favorite feeding grounds near a sod farm. Another sign of spring is the increasing daylight. Schoolchildren up here suffer from too much of the good stuff as the days lengthen into the night. Bedtimes are disrupted sleep is lost, and teachers complain about the zombies they find sitting behind desks in the morning... We've got our eyes peeled on the robin front!"

Cleaning Up after Winter Moose
Kenai, AK, near Soldatna, Alaska (60.46N -151.20W) On April 15, 1999, Bill Vedders' third grade class at Mt. View Elementary listed the things happening right now up there:
  • We are up to about 15 hours of daylight.
  • The snow/ice pack melted off from the playground blacktop and the custodians had to sweep off all the moose poop.
  • Talk has turned away from windchill and toward fishing.
  • Clam shovels have replaced snow shovels at the local K-Mart.
  • robins yet!!"

Challenge Question #15
"When will robins reappear in Anchorage and Kenai, AK?"

(To respond to this week's Challenge Question, see below.)

Robins Starting to Nest in the South
In many places, robins are already incubating eggs. Have any hatched yet in the South? When you see a robin carrying mud or sticks, follow it and see if you can figure out where it's nesting. But don't bother the birds while they are caring for their eggs or young!

Listening Activity
Here's a fun activity to try. First, in your notebook or on a sheet of paper, make five columns with these headings:
  • Song
  • "Peek" and "Tut" calls
  • Whinny
  • "Seee" call
  • "Zeeeup" call

Next, learn the five kinds of robin calls:

All Recordings Courtesy of Lang Elliott Nature Sound Studio

Listen to the
Robin's Song
Wait for download;
96 K file.

Listen to the
Robin's "Peek" and "Tut" calls

Wait for download;
162 K file.

Listen to the
Robin's Whinny

Wait for download;
138 K file.

Listen to the
Robin's "Seeee" call

Wait for download;
184 K file.

Listen to the Robin's "Zeeup!" call
Wait for download;
158 K file.

Now go outside near a robin territory and listen for 15 minutes. Each time you hear a robin make one of these sounds, mark it in the appropriate column. Compare results with other students who listened to different robins at different times of day. And let us know your results with:

Challenge Question #16
"How much do robin songs and calls vary between individuals and at different times of day?"

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

Answer only one Challenge Question in each e-mail.
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2.In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #15 OR Challenge Question #16.
3. In the body of your message, answer the question.

The next Robin Migration Update will be posted Tuesday, May 4, 1999.

Copyright 1999 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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