When Will Robins Reach the End of the Trail?
Making Predictions for the Northern Observation Posts

Overview: Some robins migrate to North America's far north to breed. Because few people live in the most remote regions, we have found willing volunteers to watch for the robin's arrival there.

These sites are our official "Northern Observation Posts" (NOPs). While we wait for robins to reach the far north, make some predictions:

  • When will observers in the robin's northernmost breeding territories SEE their first robins this spring?
  • When will they HEAR their first robins this spring?


Laying the Groundwork

1. Before making your predictions, look at annual temperatures in the NOP regions. (Unlike hummingbird migration, robin migration is tightly connected to weather. Robins move forward as the weather — and the availability of food sources — improves.) The map below shows average monthly temperatures throughout the year. Looking at it closely can help you make more accurate predictions about the arrival of robins at the Northern Observation Posts.

Monthly Global Temperatures
Click for an animated map of average monthly air temperatures. Answer the questions you find there.

(Hint: One theory says that robins migrate along with average temperatures of 36 degrees F.)

(Note: You can look at more maps and weather data by clicking links under Digging Deeper, below.)

2. Use Your 2007 Prediction Log for the NOPs to record your predictions about when reporters at Journey North's Northern Observation Posts will (1) see the FIRST robins and (2) hear the first robin SONG.

3. Keep an eye on Journey North's Robin News updates and on weather maps that feature the Northern Observation Posts. How did your predictions turn out? You may want to revise them as the season unfolds!

Discussion or Journaling Questions
  • How did your predictions compare with the actual dates of first robin sightings and songs at the NOPs? What factors might have influenced the actual dates?
  • Did you notice any pattern in the time span between the first arrivals and first songs? If so, how would you explain it?

Digging Deeper: More Map Links
Snow and Ice Cover Maps
As you look at these current maps, ask yourself, "Are robins likely to return here or begin singing yet? Why or why not?"
Today's Temperatures Across Canada
What are the temperatures at the NOPs today? As you track these over the next few weeks, you may want to revise your predictions.

2006 Final Robin Migration Map (First Robins Seen)

2006 Final Robin Migration Map (First Robin Song)

Last Year's Migration Data
When did robins arrive at the NOPs last year? When did they start to sing? Do you think they will follow the same pattern this year? Why or why not? 

Other Links
Weather/Climate Maps for Canada
Weather, Climate, and the Seasons: Maps and Links