Important Time to Eat!
Snow covers the frozen soil. Earthworms stay underground. What do robins
eat in wintertime? Food is even more important than shelter in cold
weather. It fuels metabolism,
giving robins the fat and energy they need to move, stay warm, and survive.
eat berries and other fruits left on shrubs, trees, and vines. Fruit is
high in calories and doesn't spoil quickly in cold temperatures. Summer's leftover
fruit becomes a robin's winter diet.
Follow the Food
Robins are nomadic in the winter. They move in search
of food. They do not occupy and defend a home territory as
they do during the breeding season. Most winter robins travel in flocks.
Tens, hundreds, even thousands may fly together.
winter, hungry flocks may appear suddenly on berry-filled trees.
The robins feast on the fruit until the tree is bare. Winter robins
go where the
Robins eat the tastiest fruits first. By late winter and early spring they may
have to shift to less favored, less nutritious leftovers. This robin settled
sumac berries when caught in an April snowstorm.
If robins have enough food, they can survive extreme cold. Robins make their
body heat by shivering. The energy to shiver comes from food. This robin has
also fluffed out its feathers to help it stay warm.
You can offer robins frozen or fresh fruit. Place apple slices, raisins, blueberries,
strawberries, raspberries, or cherries on the ground. Robins may not visit bird
feeders. Young robins learn that fruit grows on trees and shrubs. They just don't
expect to find
it anywhere else!
Even the hungriest robin doesn't eat birdseed. Robins can't digest
seeds and their beaks are not built for cracking. Instead, you could
buy mealworms at a pet store for your winter robins.
Robins need water—even in the winter. When water sources are frozen, thirsty
birds must eat snow. You can set out a bowl of shallow water when the temperature
is above 10°F. When it's colder, the steam given off by freezing water coats
feathers with ice, and the birds can't fly. Bathing is important, though. Dirty
lose insulation properties, so a clean bird is a warm bird.
Warm and fed, this robin survives winter. Do you think he
is looking for signs of spring?
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