How Far North Will Robins Go?

Robins only began nesting in the high arctic for the first time in the late 1990s. “We're at 64.2°N 96.05°W and saw robins here for the first time ever in 2005,” said teacher Orin Durey of Baker Lake village in Nunavut, Canada. "It’s so unusual that Inuit don't even have a word for this bird. In the Inuit language Inuktitut, a robin is known simply as the bird with the red breast. Now villagers wait each spring to see if robins will be back."
Photo Julie Brophy

The Advantages of Long Summer Days
The northernmost robins arrive at a later date than their Illinois cousins, but they will still have plenty of time for raising babies. Breeding animals need to feed themselves AND their babies, so finding food is serious business. Fred Charles found that Illinois robins put in 15.5 hours a day feeding young in late May, bringing an average of 356 pieces of food daily!

Journal or Discussion Questions
  • Why do you think robins are migrating and nesting farther north than ever before?
  • How might the long days in northern regions benefit birds that migrate there? What disadvantages can you list for robins going the farthest north?