a Good Territory from Above
can see our backyards from inches away or from the sky above.
a robin hears another male's song, it knows there's good territory
often make nests in evergreen trees before other trees leaf out.
We humans look at the world from our vantage point a few feet above the
ground. Robins see just about everything from different angles than we
do. For example, we see our own backyard from eye level, from the porch
when we're outside, or from looking out our windows when we're inside.
If we sit outside in a lawn chair, we see things a little differently.
Imagine if we saw our yard from the top of the tallest tree around, from
within a thick shrub, from three inches above the ground, and from the
air while flying above the treetop. What might robins notice that we usually
Robins migrate by day. As they fly over a neighborhood, they look and
listen for signals that they are over a good territory. One thing they
notice is other robins singing. If they hear a robin song from above,
they know there's a good territory down below, but it's already taken.
But if there is only one robin singing, there might still be some nice
spots available. If they hear lots of trucks or bulldozers, or blue jays
squawking or a hawk calling, they may decide the ground below is too dangerous
for a territory.
else do they notice? Robins usually make their first nest of the season
before trees completely leaf out. From the air, they probably look for
evergreen trees or eaves on a house that might provide shelter. A berry
bush or crabapple tree with a few apples still on it might look pretty
good as an emergency food supply, especially in early spring before they
can count on finding worms every day.
nice big lawn without a lot of bushes or trees in the middle is very nice
for robins, who seem to prefer an unobstructed view while searching for
worms. This probably protects them from predators who might lurk behind
shrubs. Robins seem to prefer places that have fresh water for drinking
and bathing. So puddles, bird baths, little streams, and other water sources
are very enticing for robins. Can you think of any other things that robins
might notice that tell them a particular area is a good, or a bad, potential
This! Journaling Questions
you are a robin flying over your backyard during spring migration. What
do you see and hear? Make a list of all the things that might appear
from above to be signs of a good territory.
another list of things that might appear from above to be danger signals.
Now imagine you fly down for a closer inspection. How good a territory
does your yard seem from close up?
your backyard robins settle in, they develop boundaries so neighboring
pairs won't have to fight over their territories. If you pay attention
to where each robin sings and feeds and perches, you can even draw maps
of your neighborhood robin territories. How? Learn about it here:
Science Education Standards >>