Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Robins are Ready for Anything

Robins are Ready for Anything

The robins are here, a visual announcement of spring’s imminent arrival (a more natural indication than Punxutawney Phil’s famous predictions). It is a treat to see them. Several have been hanging out in my backyard for a couple of weeks now. The birds I’ve been watching are having gourmet meals, feasting on the now-plentiful worms in the warm ground. They are patient, standing in one place and turning their heads to better view the field. Before long they jab their beaks into the dirt and emerge with a wiggly prize. Very efficient hunters.

But there is more to American Robins than just their familiar red breast feathers. These large members of the thrush family are flexible birds. They live in a wide range of habitats, in many different environments: in backyards, parks, marshes, fields, wooded areas, and even in the tundra. They are flexible eaters, too. In the warm weather they mostly eat worms and insects, but when it turns cooler or those aren't available they change their diet and eat berries and other fruit. Sometimes they eat seeds from shrubs or trees though they are not bird feeder frequenters. Robins tend to migrate but are not fixated on a date. Their departure depends more on the availability of food than of the time of year or the weather. Some robins stay put and don’t migrate at all.

I think that this flexibility has helped the robin to be more plentiful now than when the colonists came. The newcomers found a wooded land in the east, which they proceeded to thin out for dwellings and heat, exposing the land. The robins adapted - there were worms a-plenty! And in the mid-west where forests were sparse, the colonists planted trees, giving robins places to nest and breed.

In our changing world, as the weather shifts, technologies change, and cultures merge, we could use some robin-flexibility. We need to be able to work with the new circumstances and use them to our benefit to thrive. Robins are good examples.

Answers to questions you have always wanted to ask about robins: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/search/Robin.html

And more about the American Robin:


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