and early summer, robins get stressed when robins other than their mate
and babies are close. Their blood pressure rises and their hearts beat
faster. But in autumn and winter, robins become sociable. They join big
flocks. They feed, drink, and roost and hang out close together, as this
January photo shows! Go around the bird bath and study the body postures
of each bird as one robin flies in. What does each robin's body posture
tell you? Then see comments of Journey North's robin expert, Laura Erickson,
who helps you figure out what's going on. Next, see our Try This section
for fun follow-ups, including how to calculate your own personal space.
photo was taken Jan. 26, 2004 by Becky Stanton in Gahanna, OH
- The robin
directly in the path of the landing robin is crouching, just in case
it needs to take off to avoid a crash.
counterclockwise from that one, the next two robins are drinking, apparently
not concerned at all about the landing bird.
- The next
robin seems to be looking at the landing bird, but isn’t crouching,
nor in a threatening posture.
- The next
one seems to be looking at Becky, taking the photo. Robin eyes are on
the sides of their head, and see better when looking sideways than directly.
As a matter of fact, that bird may be looking right at Becky with one
eye AND the flying bird with the other!
- The last
sitting robin (to the right of the landing bird) has its head cocked,
looking at the flying bird—but doesn’t seem to be concerned
or threatened by it.
- Look at
the cupped wings of the landing robin. This photo captures how a robin
holds its wings in order to brake as it lands. Can you count nine feathers
radiating out from the hand bones on the left wing? These are called
primary feathers. Robins have ten primaries, but one is "vestigial"
(just a tiny little feather).
When robins take off in flight, they often poop. You can tell by the whiteness
of the bird bath that Becky keeps it clean. But when so many robins are
coming to the bird bath, she probably has to hose it out a lot!
This! Journaling Question & Link to Activity