Birds & Birding

Why Are You Seeing Robins in Winter?

February 7, 2018


December 9, 2020

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American Robin (Turdus migratorius). Photo Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren / Flickr through a CC BY 2.0 license

As winter wears on, the passing of Groundhog Day has many people thinking about the arrival of spring. Even skeptics can’t be faulted for dreading Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow, but I’ve been watching for a different omen. I’ve been awaiting the arrival of the American robin, a traditional harbinger of spring in the United States.

But there’s a hitch. Recently, while gazing out my apartment window, I saw not just one robin but a flock of thirty or more visiting my neighborhood trees. Weirder still, these robins weren’t eating their standard springtime worms, they were noshing on late fruiting berries. Spring has certainly not arrived, so why have the robins?

To learn more about this behavior, I spoke to Elizabeth Howard, Founder and Director of Journey North. Journey North’s American Robin project is tracking robin movements across North America. She pointed out that robins, though they are considered migratory, don’t follow the typical north to south and back migration pattern we tend to associate with other migratory birds.

Robins in Winter

“Robins can withstand very cold temperatures,” Howard explains. “In most places you can see robins in the wintertime. You’ll see them wandering around and yet it’s not considered migration because basically they’re moving in a nomadic way, following the food.”

Many robins, especially those that remain in the northern states and southern Canada, change their diets in winter. Since worms and insects aren’t available, they search out trees that still have fruit.

Flock of robins. Photo © Seabamirum / Flickr through a CC BY 2.0 license

“In the wintertime robins are actually social,” Howard says. “They form flocks — all those eyes and ears are good for watching out for predators. And one of the beauties of flocking is that if one of them finds some food, it can call the rest.”

Even in freezing temperatures, robins can stay warm enough to make staying through the winter worthwhile. Those who remain near their mating grounds will get first dibs on the best nesting territories when spring arrives.

“Sometimes you see them and it’s so cold you think, ‘My goodness they’ll all die.’” Howard says. “It’s amazing, the way they survive winter is they fluff their feathers and get really big. Their internal temperature is 104° F and yet they can be in areas below freezing. That’s how well their feathers insulate them; there can even be a 100-degree difference just through those layers of feathers.”

If you want to observe robins in winter, try putting out water for them. They can survive on their own by eating snow, but birds always welcome a source of unfrozen water for drinking and bathing.

Male robin. Photo © Lisa Feldkamp / The Nature Conservancy

The First Robin of Spring

Robins haven’t been entirely dethroned from their poetic status as spring symbol. Though notions of spring vary by region and temperature. Some robin behaviors take place in step with the warming temperatures that people associate with the arrival of spring.

For instance, as temperatures warm in springtime, the bulk of the robin population follows a more reliable northward spring migration pattern.

“In the spring they migrate with a 36-degree isotherm,” Howard explains. “The ground thaws and that’s when traditional earthworms and some other insect larvae are available. That’s when you see big movements.”

More than anything, the robin’s song remains a reliable indicator that the first wave of spring migration has reached you. This song is one of the first signs that robins are switching from winter behavior to courtship and nesting behavior associated with spring.

Robin with a worm. Photo © John Benson / Flickr through a CC BY 2.0 license

“We see a clear south to north progression in reports of territorial song,” Howard notes. “Across the continent, as males arrive on territory they begin to sing. That true robin song that you hear nonstop all day or certainly through the morning means your local male has arrived.”

Males arrive first to establish their territories – they will fight with their feet to defend them. In spring the males become so territorial that they’ve been known to beat themselves up while trying to fight their own reflection.

“Females arrive a couple of weeks later,” Howard says. “They’re not in a rush. Their job is to have fat stores as plentiful as possible. They don’t want to burn through calories by migrating too early. They need to be in good condition.”

Arriving too early can be bad for reproduction too. A spring freeze can damage the integrity of the nest.

Robin nest. Photo © Plant Image Library / Flickr through a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Only the females have a brood patch, an area of warm featherless skin that’s used to transfer body heat to the eggs. Females spend about 50 minutes of every hour on the nest during incubation. It’s two weeks from egg laying to hatching and robins will start a new nest within the month. Robins nest as many as four times each summer, depending on how far north they are.

As in winter, water is one of the best ways to attract robins to your yard in spring.

“If you turn on a sprinkler you’ll have robins within minutes,” Howard says. “It makes the soil soft and earthworms and other food easy to collect.”

Juvenile robin. Photo © Ken_from_MD / Flickr through a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Report Your Robin Observations

You can report robin observations to Journey North all year round. As spring approaches, Journey North has a checklist of robin life cycle events to track and report:

  • Over-wintering robins – watch for flocks.
  • First male robin – you will know it is a male by his bold red breast and his dark head and back.
  • First wave of robins – three or more robins together (but not in the winter) is a sign that migration is peaking.
  • Average temperature reaches 36° F – help Journey North find out whether or not this is truly when robins sing.
  • First earthworm – help Journey North find out if robin arrival is tied to earthworm availability.
  • First robin song – listen for the robin’s true song.
  • First female robin – she will look washed out compared to the male.
  • First males in battle – they will be fighting over territories.
  • Nest building begins – watch for males with a mouthful of nest materials or females with muddy breasts.
  • Incubation underway – if you’re not seeing the female around anymore, she’s probably busy incubating.
  • Young hatch – watch for adults flying with worms.
  • First young fledge – fledglings don’t fly and have a spotted breast. You might see them on the ground or in low branches.
  • First young take wing – within a few days of fledging watch for the juveniles to start their practice flights.
  • Parents start another nest – when you see the male feeding the fledglings, but the female is absent, she has likely disappeared to incubate a new set of eggs.

“One of the great things about robins is they’re so accessible,” Howard says. “You can look out your window and see them. There’s so much to learn about such an unsung hero.”

Have you noticed unusual robin behavior in your neighborhood or? Share it in the comments and report your sightings to Journey North.

Lisa Feldkamp

Lisa loves all things citizen science and enjoys learning about everything that goes on four legs, two wings or fins - she even finds six and eight-legged critters fascinating at a safe distance. She has a PhD in Classical Literature and Languages from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and enjoys reading Greek and Roman literature or talking about mythology in her spare time. More from Lisa

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  1. I quit counting robins as a sign of spring I see them all year round just like great blue herons , I count turkey vulture are ground hogs.

    1. I love the idea of watching for turkey vultures as the new sign of spring 🙂 Thank you Julian!

  2. We live in central Indiana, surprised a couple days ago (Feb 7) to see as many as fifty Robins out back in a couple different trees, flying around the back yard from tree to tree. Have not seen one since that day.

    1. Hi Pat, The flocks in winter are nomadic and follow the food, so it’s common to only see them briefly. Thank you for sharing your observation!

  3. We live in Lubbock,TX. there are trees all around in spite of Lubbock being a semi arid place. Since a few days I have been seeing a whole lot of Robins in our back yard. They do not eat the bird seed I put but by golly they drink water like anything. Almost non stop. This happens a few times a year I have noticed. They poop all seeds and berries of different colors at different seasons. As though they have eaten fermented berries and are dizzy like they make a bee line to the water pan which is a big size one ( I use the drip pan from the oven that I don’t use for baking) Today I watched them fro two hours in spite of having lot of household chores to take care of. I just couldn’t resist. Why do they drink so much water can some one explain please? They are so disciplined. They do not fight but wait for their turn to drink water. Twenty robins or so will be drinking and another twenty birds will be waiting to take their turns. Amazing!! Thank you and have a good week you all.

    1. Hi Ambika, I have heard that robins (and other birds) sometimes do get drunk from eating berries, but I had not heard about this particular drinking behavior – though I’ve seen video of similar behavior with budgies in Australia. I would assume that they don’t get a chance to drink often in the arid environment and so when they do get a chance, they really fill up. I will check with Elizabeth and see if I can find out more. Thank you for sharing a cool observation!

      1. Lisa,
        I sure do appreciate your taking time to reply. Am happy to learn a little bit more about robins. Take care. Stay healthy and warm. Have a good weeknd.

        1. Hi ambika, I shared your question with Elizabeth Howard and she says they have heard of them eating fermented fruit and becoming drunk. She doesn’t know why they are drinking so much water, but it could be because Texas is dry or it could seem like a lot because of a difference in expectations of how much water robins would drink as compared to how much they actually drink. Thank you again for the question and have a great week!

  4. Reading this in Toronto L 43.65. Where do you observe the events in this column from?

    1. I was writing from Corvallis, Oregon. Journey North data suggests the phenomenon is widespread across much of North America – though there are still areas where people usually don’t report robins until the weather warms. Thank you for the question!

  5. We’ve seen them in large flocks twice in the past few weeks here in Charleston, SC! They’re pecking on the ground AND eating Holly berries. Beautiful! I think they were all males.

  6. I love Robins, always have and they were always my harbingers of spring. In the last five years or so, here in Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York, the Robins have not left they are here year round and I love watching them nest.

    Thank you for this great information. I will continue my watch.

    Saula J. Siegel

  7. If you check the Christmas Bird Count for Minneapolis MN, you’ll find robins listed all the way back.

  8. I love the Robin’s song. We had a bad winter in Iowa this year and I never seen any around. It’s Feb.28th and I still haven’t seen any in Council Bluffs yet.

  9. In winter we usually have flocks of robins in our neighborhood in Palo Alto, California, gorging themselves on our toyon berries. The last couple of winters I have seen only on or two. The berries remain on the bushes, uneaten. Is this part of biological change as a result of climate change?

    1. Hi Carol, Thank you for the question! There are so many variables that it’s difficult to attribute a specific event like this to climate change. For instance, it could be that the robins found a more bountiful source of food elsewhere. That is why it’s so important to have many observations over a large area over time – that kind of data reveals long term trends that could be connected to climate change.

  10. Thank you
    Nice review
    But I believe one has to recall the North American robin has the same physical size and feeding habits as The European thrush
    And is quite different from the delicate redbreasted bird that the English call a robin
    Brian T

    1. Hi Brian, Thank you! Yes, this post is about American robins. I don’t know if British robins are considered a harbinger of spring or not, but they are a very different bird.

  11. Thank you for that article, Lisa!
    We had been wondering the same things for some years, here in Central Missouri. I’m glad to hear that robins are hardier than we thought, because we don’t see them at the feeders. If they eat Japanese Honeysuckle berries, they are well provided for, because it has definitely taken over our woodlands and yard boundaries.

  12. I saw a Robin yesterday fly away, from a tree, here in Woodstock, IL. I have never seen one this early in the year before! I was so excited, as usual, when I see any wildlife. I would like to mention that last Summer, Robins were very scarce at my parent’s house near McHenry, IL. It was almost creepy without them.

  13. I have a question about robins. I live in New York City but across the street from a park and trees.
    In the spring and summer, and part of the fall, there is beautiful bird song almost all night–it seems
    to come from a single bird, but the song varies a little from year to year. It is a very sweet and somewhat
    elaborate trill. It’s so lovely that we often waken at night just to list to it, such a rare beautiful moment
    in a noisy city. Sometimes we can hear another similar bird song from further away.

    I listened to the Audubon Society bird songs several years ago and thought it was a robin. I also read
    that robins [and other city birds] often sing at night because it is so noisy during the day.
    It’s too early for me to record and send it to you.

    Could it be a robin [or a series of robins, given that the song varies somewhat from year to year]
    even though it doesn’t sound quite like your “real robin” song?

    If not, what else could it be? We did have a pair of robins nesting in a tree around the corner–in the
    other direction from our virtuoso. I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this.

  14. After reading this interesting article I now understand why I spotted a Robin in my yard in NJ in early February! I haven’t seen any since but likely will soon. For the past 3 years we’ve had a Robin make its nest on top of our pergola on our deck. We see the adults constantly flying back and forth feeding the babies. Hopefully they’ll come back to their nesting spot this spring!

  15. Thank you Lisa. That was so informative and fun. In Seattle here in the last two months I have seen several flocks of 20-25 robins invading the berry trees big time. I wondered each time what was
    going on with so many of them being here in January.

  16. I have seen large flocks of robins in the winter before. I live in York, ME and have wetlands behind my house, and am fortunate enough to be able to observe all kinds of birds. I remember one time in February 2015 I was out in the woods and saw a flock of at least 50 robins eating berries. That’s when I figured out robins aren’t necessarily a sign of spring. I have found that the Red-Shouldered Blackbirds (who seem to be quite territorial and aggressive; they really like the cat tails out in the swamp) are a far more reliable sign, along with the Goldfinches. I often see robins year round. On a somewhat related note, while I can identify most of the birds I see, I once saw a bird that I have not been able to figure out for quite some time. It was a large bird, about the size of a chicken at least, and it was clinging to the side of a maple tree, kind of like how a woodpecker or Chickadee grips the side of a tree. It had a red “V” on its back. The closest I’ve found in my bird book is Harris’s Hawk, but that doesn’t make sense given my environment. I only saw it that one time and from behind the bird. I went to grab my camera but it was gone when I got back. Any idea what it could have been? Some sort of owl perhaps? Or perhaps a falconer lost track of their bird…?

  17. I live in Sequim, WA and we have robins all year. Robins were the second highest bird reported on our Christmas Bird Count which is in early December….

    Sequim is located about 70 miles west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula…

  18. we live n southern new jersey just outside Philadelphia and I observed a flock of at least 100 robins in our yard and in my neighbor’s yard during a snow on January 4, 2018. She has a 30 ft holly tree that was covered in red hollyberries and the robins were feeding in the tree and on the frozen, snow-covered ground. We see them occasionally now but not in those numbers.

  19. I’ve had robins winter in my yard in northern Utah for years, starting with a male whose feathers had somehow had got oil of some kind on them. The parents often drop the babies off in my yard and keep an eye on them for a few days. I’ve had a few male babies who act ‘tame’ and seem to lack fear of humans, animals, or inclement weather. They also stayed fluffed up all the time. I know that at least some of these don’t survive.

  20. Hi, I was wondering why I sometimes hear a Robin in the wintertime singing in a tree very very softly – almost like he’s whispering. I’ve heard this several times.
    Thank you for any insight you can offer.

    1. Hi Jennifer, That is a good question – I haven’t heard of this behavior. I think it would be interesting to report to the Journey North Robin project if you remember the date of the observation. Thank you!

  21. I lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota for many years and found what feeds the robins through the winter are the noxious common buckthorns, (rhamnus cathartica) an exotic (non-native) very invasive small tree from Europe. They were introduced way back in the mid1800’s as hedge plants. They have a survival plan- they leaf out early and lose leaves late so have a competitive edge over any poor native oak trying to germinate. They have those berries that have a purple -blue flesh over a round seed. The birds thrive on them, give the seeds an acid bath and seeds go everywhere and also drop right under the tree, making for a very dense stand of shade. Maples can grow in the shade, not oaks. This is changing the make up of the woods.
    It is hard to control all the buckthorn around but it can be done area by area with cutting and herbiciding large trees and pulling out young ones. Keep after it. They will always be around.

  22. I love robins. About 35 years ago I raised one successfully by feeding him moistened dog kibble. I became his “mom”. If he heard my voice he would starting “cheeping” for food. We were able to let him go but he hung around for a while. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, one of my sons also raised one successfully by feeding him dog kibble.

  23. We have a Robin that flies & splats into our window. When it hits the window, it then drops to the ground and then jumps up about 8 ” to the window sill. He does this over and over. When he hits the window it seams as though he could not survive the hit, but he does. This goes on for a very long time.

  24. I saw robins today, recent arrivals I’m guessing. Because you can see robins in winter nowdays, I look to red wing blackbirds now as my goto for a sign of spring.

  25. Robins here in the Pacific Northwest seem to nest on the ground (?? under ferns and other bushes) instead of in trees… this possible. When driving by an area when they are, the adults seem to fly briefly in front of car and then off into the distance, but low to the ground. Are they trying to lead a perceived predator away from their nest site? We have several robins in our yard now – in Puget Sound area— digging for worms …. they look like males. We use our ~3/4 acre to consistently provide water, food and habitat for birds of all kinds, as well as other wildlife, and have as many trees growing on our property as possible.)

  26. Hello! I am from England originally and the English Robin is quite different, smaller with a true red breast, therefore called Robin Red Breast. I grew up learning this rhyme and thought you might enjoy it too. “The North wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, and what will the Robin do then? poor thing.
    He’ll sit in the barn, to keep himself warm, and tuck his head under his wing, poor thing.” I love all the British nursery rhymes and neat things like this. I certainly enjoyed reading all about the Robins in these articles and yes, love watching them in my bird baths and the sprinkler when ready. Right now, it is very cold and snowing off and on and no Robins yet. hugs to keep us warm and love for all our animals and feathered friends.

  27. I saw my first two robins today . I live in Manalapan N.J. and we are in the middle of a snowstorm . My robins always return about mid-March and somehow arrive in or around a snowstorm . This is a little early for them. I thought perhaps in another week but they are back. I’m happy!!

  28. Several weeks ago, probably in January, we had Robins in our Robinson crab apple tree here in South Tamworth, NH between the Winnipesaukee Lakes Region and the Mount Washington Valley. I was quite surprised to see them, but they were eagerly eating the little apples during a heavy snow storm. It was a lovely surprise. Plenty of apples remain, but the Robins quickly moved on.

  29. So happy to learn that Journey North is still around. I started using Journey North in my computer classes lab as soon as we had Internet connection in the 90s. We did many different projects for signs of spring. We did tulips, robins, and more. I retired in 1999. I hope many teachers are now involved because it is such a worthwhile opportunity for interaction with classes throughout the country and even the world, integrating many curriculum areas.

  30. Wow this is a great article! We have always called the big fat cardinals we see in the winter CHARLES COUNTY MARYLAND cardinals and the smaller ones that arrive in spring migrating ones. Now I know they are just the same birds just not needing to keep warm so they “deflate” hahah. I live in a densely wooded area with loads of holly trees. Some taller than the house. The robins fill the trees in the early winter feasting on the berries. And then we don’t usually see large groups of them until we get a good snow, which isn’t every year.
    Thank you for the lesson!

  31. Robins have arrived at my house,Wichita,Ks and it’s only March.They sure have been enjoying my bird bath! Was wondering if you knew how to keep Crackels out of the suet I hang out? Got at least five that attack the cage! Now my woodpecker’s won’t come around.Thank you!

  32. Just observed about 15-20 Robins in my Daughter-in-Laws yard. We live in St. Catharines, Ontario Canada just a few miles west of Niagara falls. This is the first time I have seen that many robins together this early in the year.

  33. I’m in SE Michigan and we have one apple tree in our small condo subdivision that I pass every day. I’ve been waiting all winter to see robins in it and a few days ago I finally did! It was a small flock of about 8-10 and they were sharing the apples with a flock of cedar waxwings. I’ve seen flocks of these two species hang out in the winter before. They are fun to watch!

  34. I’ve moved to a town that’s swamped in robins in the spring and started to notice their behaviours all the time due to the sheer numbers of them to watch. The behaviour that I’d like to understand is the “sit by oneself as fatly and grumpily-looking as possible on someone’s lawn, generally close to the road or sidewalk” behaviour. It looks territorial and possibly also the ground is warmer near the pavement, so potentially more food is available. But when I approach robins who are doing this in the park (rather than on lawns where they generally fly off), they tend to bob along just beside/ahead of me, dragging their wingtips but rarely flying off — yesterday, one robin possibly female was making a fuss on the top of a baseball diamond as the other bobbed along and when it eventually took off flew clumsily and not very effectively onto a shrub branch about a 2 feet off the ground. It’s too early for fledglings and these robins aren’t speckly and have very full red breasts anyhow. I just find it odd. Also, their grumpy faces are hilarious.

  35. For two years in a row now, at this same time of year, I’ve driven past a local farm field (outside Montpelier, VT) while on my way home from work (around 6:15PM) and noticed that it was covered with robins, each about 10-15 feet away from any other robin. There were hundreds of robins in this network formation. Another field further down (separated from this one by woods and a few houses) was the same way. This spread along the road for about two miles. I have not read anything that approaches this. I believe the same field was slightly flooded last year. This year it is covered with about 3″ of slush and new snow/sleet accumulation, so it was not bare ground this year.

  36. I have a robin’s nest near my front door so I’m getting a lot of great information about these guys! I have binacular’s too so I can get even closer.
    It has been so neat watching them. I will try to be as brief as possible but there is SO much! From the beginning with the female building the nest so quickly. After a rainstorm she would bring mouthfuls of mud, grasses, twigs…she was WEAVING the twigs! every so often she would get inside and rock her body back and forth to mold the most perfect home.
    After about 2 weeks the babies hatched on Mother’s Day! I saw what appeared to be the female “jack hammering” inside the nest. 3 days later I saw the tips of little beaks reaching up and both mother and father are continuously feeding them. (I don’t know how many, was afraid to peek in the nest and attract predators….believe it or not, crows watch and know somethings up)
    So cute! The father is VERY gentle taking his time to feed, look, feed look….and the mother is quick and gets it done fast.
    The father has made enough noise at times I run outside to find either a group of grackles or a crow too close to the nest. I scare them away. The male’s warning calls are about 30-40 ft away from the nest which is smart to not bring attention to where the nest is. The male doesn’t fly away. I’ve done this so much I believe they know that I’m helping them. I talk to her softly as I walk to my car (not looking or stopping) or bringing out the trash (about a foot from the nest) and neither fly away or make any sound.
    Today has to be the coolest! We had torrential rains. I was so worried. Well, the mother stayed on the nest with her wing spread outside the nest! The rain ran off her to the ground instead of going into the nest. How smart! The male would fly in and appear to kiss the female. Out came the binacular’s. As the mom protected the babies, the father was bringing in food, transferring the food to the mother’s mouth! This went on the entire storm. Rain has subsided and both of them are muddy and drenched. Mom did all the actual feeding during this time that the father provided. I am in awe! I am keeping a close eye on them and hope the babies can survive the odds. Will keep you posted.
    LOVE my Robin family!

    1. Hi Kathy, That is so cool! I hope that you are sharing these observations on Journey North as well – observations like this are so valuable to improving our knowledge of robin behavior. Thank you for watching out for this robin family!

  37. We travel north each spring from Fl to Pocono Mnts PA. I look forward to seeing the Robins. It is mud July and have only spotted one! Where have they gone? I miss thier chirp!

  38. From Athol,ID

    Oh my goodness what a surprise. Yesterday and today a flock of Robin have been visiting out trees.
    We have no snow, it is chilly though.
    What a gift.
    Merry Christmas.

  39. I live in southwest Washington state. I have noticed large flocks of robins in the field and trees behind my house even in this late December, which surprised me. The beginning of your article was helpful in understanding this behavior. They do all look fat, which must be the fluffing of feathers you mentioned. This is my first winter in this house, so I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence, but I have lived in the general area for quite some time, and this is the first I’ve seen of this.

  40. This is January 2nd 2018 on Orem Utah and I just saw a flock of about 20 robins in the yard. What is going on? They usually do not arrive until March or April.

  41. I saw over 50 at a time all through the afternoon yesterday (Jan 22, 2019) gobbling persimmons that had been left on the ground this past fall as well as the leftovers in the treetops. I live in Indiana about 15 miles north of Indianapolis. I have lived in Indiana all of my life & have always had multiple bird feeders but have never witnessed something like this! There was still a small amount of snow on the ground & they turned the snow orange! It was wonderful to watch! I love watching birds & at the moment have 4 feeders, 2 thistle socks, & 3 suet holders. I am so glad this article was available & I found it so quickly.

  42. My husband and I saw at least 40 male robins today in our back yard, running about on the ground. It is January 27, 2019. I don’t believe we have ever seen robins this early before. We are in Maryland.

    I told my husband that my theory is that perhaps the abundance of rain in our area this winter probably has the ground crawling with earthworms.

  43. I’ve been seeing Robins in the trees this past week in South Portland, ME.
    We have cardinals, juncos, chickadees, and lots of squirrels.
    I see occasional owls, hawks, and turkeys.

  44. Question..a friend has Robin’s that nest up high on her porch. After eggs are laid the mother will kick them out unhatched…why?

  45. We live in Maine and are heading in to the coldest weekend of the winter. Today is January 30th and I was surprised to see one lone robin sitting in a tree. I needed to get out the binoculars because I couldn’t believe my eyes! I have never seen a robin in January before!

  46. In Nashville TN, on January 30th, a large flock of robins gathered for hours in the hackberry tree behind our house. They took turns scouting out my feeder, but didn’t seem to be very interested in the seeds. The temperatures were well below freezing.

  47. January 31, 2019- 50+ robins on lawn and trees-Holiday Island, Arkansas ( just outside of Eureka Springs, AR.

  48. Here is Wechester County, NY, was stunned to see dozens of robins in my tree today. I am so glad I found this article, as it explained so much, including why they were there and the plumped up look. I put out water and berries, some of which may have been consumed. A Blue Jay came and took the bread that I had mistakenly first put out. Fascinating and glad to know this is normal, not specifically a byproduct of climate change.

  49. In west central MN. I haven’t noticed Robin’s until today, 2/3/2019. There was 4 of them out back. They were a little ways away but appeared to be 2 male and 2 female. It’s been very cold but today and yesterday have been above freezing, with highest yesterday about 36°F.

    We have ground showing but fairly sure too frozen for worms. There may be berries out there but I haven’t seen any for a while.

    It was good to read and find out more about their northern behavior. I thought they were all supposed to fly south in order to survive.


  50. A flock of about 25 male Robins has been seen all winter long in the area of Highcroftcroft Court in Colonie, New York (near Albany, NY)

  51. I’ve got a flock of robins outside my window in Minneapolis where it is 10 below zero!

  52. Seattle – 10-20 robins flying from tree to tree in our snowy yard. Very active. The robins seem very plump too! Never remember seeing so many robins in Feb. before here in Seattle.

  53. For about a week now and for several hours today I see what is I think our first male in backyard tree ! He’s beautiful! I’ve spread steel cut raw oats and blueberries for him, because I have them at hand. I think he likes me 🥴Now since reading your site, I’ll put some water out too. I’m from NE Ohio and have lived in Phila PA for 3 decades but this is the first time I’ve ever been eye- level with a tree out the window and within feet of me since childhood. I’m amazed my birdsong and bird’s stamina since reading Singing life of Birds (Donald Kriudsma), fighting cancer, and just being ! What else can I offer them to eat ?

  54. I live near Syracuse, New York and I was shocked to see Robins on Valentine’s Day. February 14th, 2019.
    I was told that there was a flock of about 20.
    The earliest I have ever seen them is maybe March 6th.

    Is this a sign of an early spring?


  55. Thank you for wriring about robins. Sitting in my car working, looked up and robins eating fruit berries on tree. Was unaware of wintering over and changing of their diets. 2/16/19 Victor, NY

  56. I rake my leaves over time during the fall and winter, where I do not have grass. Right now, I see a flock of them going through my leaf litter.

  57. Flock of Robin’s arrived this am!!!
    Males, feeding on near by apple tree and northern ash.

  58. Hi! I’m wondering if Robins will use last years’ nest or if they always build a new one…?

  59. We have learned so much about robins in the past four years…every April through July, a male relentlessly attacks our cars (and any guests’ cars that dare park in the driveway). The male will spend hours and hours attacking its reflection in the side view mirrors, and perching on the sills of both front windows of the car, raining rivers (and I mean rivers) of poop down the doors. It is honestly so maddening and absurd that is has just become something we have to laugh about. We’ve tried everything to deter the robin – tin foil hung in long pieces out of the car windows, wrapping the side view mirrors in tin foil, a fake hooting owl, the spider arm things people use on boat docks, hawk-eye appearing moving reflectors hung from the cars, house, and nearby trees…that bird just does not care! Apparently he loves our yard just as much as we do!

  60. I bought some lovely Spanish Moss last spring to drape over branches of a tree in my back yard. One morning I went outside and it was completely gone. Ha! Long story short, a Robin who had already built her nest decided to decorate/camouflage her nest with all of my Spanish moss. It was the most beautiful best I have ever seen!
    That was so much fun, I’m going to do it again this spring!

  61. March 13, 2019 Denver in the midst of the cyclone boom phenomenon. 9:30 a.m. Schools and businesses even government offices shut down in anticipation of what could come. Snowy rainy sleet coming down and a flock of robins is all over the neighbor’s lawn. I had to look it up. Who knew?

  62. I am in Canada near Peterborough Ontario. All winter long I have heard Robin chirps and calls. It is of course interesting to know how they survive and what they are thinking and eating during the winter months.
    Question: do they use a nest in winter or stay in the thick parts of white pine and white cedar?
    I do not know if the male is with its mate? I only see and hear one Robin.

    Thank You.

  63. I have noticed about a week ago that I did not see Robins or any other birds that were here in Western Pa. since spring. Isn’t it early for them to be gone by mid August? When does migration usually occur. I thought is was later in the season, more towards fall,

  64. its November 12, 2019 in New Brunswick Canada and its cold and rainy and I open my window and heard there song I was quiet surprise!

  65. The robins here in east tn Are trying to mate.there were a male and a female jumping from branch to branch.

  66. Huntington Bay LI 12/8/19. I have a flock of robins on my lawn and in the trees. Easily 30 or more

  67. I am sitting in my home office on a December day in Calgary Alberta, It’s now well into winter here. The outside temp is -7c/ or 19f. I have lived here my entrie life and I have never seen a Robyn past the end of October that was until today, I looked out to the brown partly snow covered garden and a large male Robyn caught my eye while he was foraging for berries in the bushes. I thought they all migrated out. He’s gone now but it was a pleasent surprise.

  68. It is the second day of winter and I see 3 robins in my front yard. So exciting.

  69. Hello – First time on this discussion site. I live in Southwestern Pennsylvania and this afternoon I saw about 20 robins in my yard. I do not ever recall seeing robins around here in December. It has been unusually mild the last few days and am wondering if they are migrating to somewhere else or here to stay. I haven’t seen any before today.

  70. Looked out my kitchen window this morning (December 27th) and saw a fat robin in the heated bird bath on my deck, here in central Alberta!

  71. 12/27/19 A large flock of robins appeared today in Beavercreek, OH. The temperature is near 60 today and the robins appeared to be in pairs as they flew around the yard. They appeared to be hunting for worms. We use to have a lot of holly bushes and they would eat all the berries. Kept wondering if there is something that a person could put out for them to eat. Any ideas?? I have 3 feeders and they didn’t visit and of them.

  72. December 28, 2019. Saw 3 robins today here in McConnelsville Ohio. Was nicely surprised. Don’t know if they stayed or have come back from winter area.

  73. The winter robins have arrived here in York Harbor, Maine (Dec.30/19) They are so much fun to watch , flitting here and there and actually look like they are having a wonderful time!

  74. Jan 1 2020 saw a small flock of robins( 20-30 ) this afternoon in my yard. I live in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Perhaps a good omen for the coming year?

  75. I saw a robin in my ice covered tree while it was snowing on Dec 10, 2020. It was a male robin and this was in Kansas City, Missouri.

  76. Jan 14, 2020: just saw a lovely flock of Robins in my tree in Issaquah, WA. We live on Lake Sammamish and it’s snowing today, which is very unusual, so perhaps they sought water from the lake.

  77. We have robins all winter and they do travel in flocks, sometimes a dozen in Washington State, Bellevue. Carolyn

  78. I just looked out my window there were 25 to 30 robins flocking in my holly tree. Never noticed this before. Always thought they flew South for the winter.

  79. I have 3 holy trees in my yard and I have like lots and lots of robins flying back and forth from trees. My little doggie doesnt want to be outside.I guess they are feasting on the berries. a lot of them look really fat. Ha ha.

  80. It has been so cold in Jacksonville Fl., this week but I have seen the second group of Robins stop at my back yard for water, so I know warmer weather is on the way. Welcome Welcome beautiful Robins.

  81. Today I’ve been watching a flock of male robins in Milwaukee on the grounds of Froedtert Hospital. There are at least 24 birds. The ground is snow covered but they keep flying from the trees down to a grassy area where there is no snow. Weather is about 30 degrees F and it’s snowing lightly. This is the first time I have seen robins in the winter and also the first time I have seen them flock together in numbers like this. They are pecking at the ground as if trying to find worms. This grass is next to a large utility box so the ground may be warmer there.

  82. 2 days ago, 5 robins flew in a few minutes later, 5 more, etc., til there were about 50. We are in gahanna, ohio 43230. Next morning,…their song.

  83. It’s January 23rd and I just had a flock of robins land in our yard. This flock had to be a hundred or more. I could not believe my eyes. Never saw anything like it. They were just like a bunch of kids excited over something. It lasted about 10 minutes and then they left.

  84. I have noticed large groups of Robin’s singing in my trees in the during the time of sunrise wether cloudy or sunny. They are very numerous. I live in a higher elevation than my surrounding areas. 1/29/2020 Kansas City, MO current temperature is 29 degrees.

  85. I live upper South Carolina but beaver see them this time of year . Jan 29 2020

  86. I live in a rural area of Pulaski County Va. I spotted a flock of robins the other day flying about in the trees near the dirt road. I’ve seen other groups of robins in recent days too.

  87. I was amazed at the number of robins on my block yesterday and still some today. When I would see a robin i always thought it was almost spring. Its the beginning of February and I have never seen so many robins together. I live in Manchester NJ.

  88. Today February 9, 2020 there must have been 100plus Robins in the trees and roofs of my neighbors and my house. The feral cats in the back were certainly watching so I let my dog out to chase the cats away. Would love to feed these birds but won’t because the cats would be all over, more than they are already. This was northwest Toledo. I have only seen Robins flock like this one other time, ever.

  89. just saw a flock of robins in the trees near my home, first time ever. had to look in my bird book to make
    sure they were robins. never saw them in february before amazing.

  90. I’m in Neefoundland Canada
    We’re out in the cold Atlantic. This year several people noticed quite a few Robbins around. Flocks really. Strange for us to see because they usually leave us in Aug./Sept. And we don’t see them again until April. We had a lot of snow this year. 70+ cm. In one day. The army had to come from Ont. To help dig us out. We were worried about the Robbins. There were plenty of Dog berries around for a while but we also get some really high winds
    Last week the wind was at 120 km per hour and gusts up to 170 to 180 km. Haven’t seen the Robbins now I a week or so. Brenda Haines

  91. Where I live, we normally only see robins for a short time in the spring and fall as they migrate through. I have never seen them in the summer or winter. Except this year. This winter, there is a large flock, many hundreds of them, that have settled very near my house, along with a flock of those black birds that you see with robins a lot. Every morning they fly towards the east, I assume to feed. Sometimes they spend the day on my property. Hundreds of them. Then in the evening they fly to the woods in the west and nest close enough that I can hear them. Do they eat ticks? I hope so. Maybe I’ll have fewer of them this spring.

  92. My girlfriends and I just had this discussion on Sunday at lunch. Could you send this article to me via e_mail so I can share it with them? Thanks in advance.

  93. I love in Ormond Beach,Florida. This morning we saw over 20 Robins across the pond all in one area. Is that unusual?


  95. We are coming into spring/ summer. I even went to pet store and got a brick of seeds. It was gone quickly. I will put so on patio in back again tomorrow


  97. There are dozens of Robins, male and female, in our yard, but in the morning we only hear one Robin doing his chirping, why is that there in only one male doing this. We hear others way off in the distance.

  98. Easter Sunday, for the first time in 10 years at this residence, Robin’s were thick on our porch and patio. And…they looked so, so big.We had a couple of inches if new snow the night before. They were pecking in the cracks between patio bricks.

  99. Over the past few weeks, there are several robins that are flying into our windows and in the windows of several cars on the street, could you possibly explain this as we have not seen this behaviour before.

  100. In my garden in Benghazi / Libya North Africa; I see the robin throughout the year. The minute I start sprinkling it comes and it is not at all afraid of getting close. It’s always flying low under branches and I see it picking in the compost.
    I just wonder if this robin is the same one I saw previously or there are more of it.
    I was always told that robins only appear in October.

  101. I love Robins, I have had an albino robin (can’t think of the real name) in my yard for 2 years. He looks like a big boy who sprayed bleach on him

  102. We have a white oak tree that is been overgrown with ivy all the way to the top. Today, my husband noticed a flock of what looked like robins (but kind of on the small side) flying in and out of the ivy. It looked like they were eating some ivy shoots or berries maybe? Never seen so many or this behavior? Anybody else?

  103. It is dec9th 2020 and we see a robin, pregnant , scratching around the dead leaves in the snow, nest materials. Will her eggs freeze? We live in Quebec northeast of ottawa.

  104. I live 8 miles south of Pittsburgh PA on 12\27\20 . I have a nearly frozen pond sprinkling water, and noticed a robin bobbing up and down mimicking a human showering, hilarious surprises occur viewing these creatures…

  105. today i saw about 120 robins and one grackle at work . I work in Oakville ON. why are they still here?

  106. We live in Terre Haute, In. & a couple of weeks ago surprisingly saw 4 robbins in our backyard drinking from our birdbaths & eating a new seed mixture we tried that has a lot of fruit in it. They’ve been back every day since! Seeing robbins this time of year was something we’d never experienced before!

  107. I’ve never seen so many Robins!
    Looks like they bed down in our tall natural grass in the valley of our property and then are seen in large flocks in the mornings and early evenings. Thus started around December 15th and as if this evening they are still in abundance here. We are located about 30 minutes from Fredericksburg Texas in the hill country on 15 acres.

  108. I live in coastal South Carolina, Charleston, and there were literally thousands of robins in our neighborhood today! It was almost 60 degrees and a little cloudy, but they were feasting on the palm berries and holly berries. I have never seen this many of any one breed of bird as today. It was an unusual site.

  109. I just took my morning walk and saw at least 6 robin’s on the ground and in the tree’s eating orange bittersweet berries. I live in Griswold, CT next to the Quinebaug River. Was a nice sight in Jan.

  110. I have a huge flock of robins in my yard now, about 50 or so, along with an equally sized flock of starlings. Do they travel together?

  111. We have had over 50 Robins in our back yard – after watering in Jan Central Texas north of Austin

  112. Saw a flock of about 2 dozen robins today out in the yard – Jan 16 2021.
    I live near York, PA.

  113. I live in south Louisiana and my yard has numerous male robins 1-17-21. They seem almost tame and un-afraid. It’s a pleasure to watch them.

  114. Yeahh, there are Robins in Ashcroft I see about 5 of them. Maybe early spring

  115. I have a flock of 20 robins in my driveway drinking melted snow water. Why did they not leave? I live in northwestern IL. I never saw this before. It is January 18, 2021!

  116. I just saw about fifty in small wooded area adjacent to my property. They were in fact going for the red berries. Glorious to see them but I was concerned and you allayed my fears. Great info!

  117. I’m in Ottawa Ontario. I have a robin come to my bird bath on a regular basis. I can set my watch to his visits. He has a red breast with what appears to be tufts of white down. Tried to leave pieces of apple for him but he didn’t take them. Can’t wait for the rest to arrive.

  118. i noticed the robins here in January already. They usually dont show up until the end of feb. We live in the houston, tx area.

  119. January 21, 2021. I work in Seneca, SC and this is the first year since moving here in 2008 that I have seen a flock of thirty plus robins at my work place. They appear to be eating some of the berries in the holly berry trees and have also been in the mulch areas eating from the ground. Fascinating site as I have never seen a flock of robins that size. I enjoyed your article. Thank you