Robin Migration Update: March 6, 2012
Please Report
Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
Change is in the air! Severe weather kept robins from a big push northward, but our maps show an increase in robin abundance. This week's photos and slideshow explore how citizen scientists can contribute to scientific research and discovery. Keep reporting!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Male Robin
Photo: Jack Moskovita
Looking for Spring?
News: What's Happening Now & What to Watch For

What's Happening Now
March came in like a lion.
From the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, severe weather affected more than 17 states. But change is in the air! This is the first week that reports of "first" robins outnumber the "wave" reports:

Wave Reports
First Reports
4 weeks ago
2 weeks ago
This week

The huge 1000+ waves have broken up into smaller flocks, and smaller flocks are breaking up to single birds starting to look for territories. Singing reports are still fewest, but they are on the increase.

  • Florida, March 2: Until today, for 5 weeks I have had large waves and numbers of robins in my yard and all over the town. I believe, for all practical purposes, the robins are pretty much north of me now. We have had some very nice warm SW winds that are driving birds northward.
  • Maryland, Mar. 1: The children were so excited to see "Mr. Robin" singing in the grass outside the school.

What to Watch For

Things are about to change! By mid-March, the robin chorus will spread. The "First Robins Heard Singing" map probably reveals most clearly when and where robins are switching from winter feeding and flocking behaviors to spring migratory restlessness and territoriality—because that's when they sing. Get ready to listen and report!

  • Learn: How will you know if your first robin is a male or female? How can you tell when a robin is building a nest? Or when mother robin is sitting on her eggs? This Checklist of Spring Robin Observations will guide you. Share it with your family, friends, and neighbors near and far. Ask everyone to help watch for—and report—robins!

Wave of robins in a tree
Photo: Joyce Tracy
Winter Behavior
Robin hunts for worms in a snow-melt area.
Photo: H. Nofz
Switching Diets
Robin eating sumac
Photo: E. Howard
Mr. Grussing's Story
Spring phenology checklist for robins
For Spring Robin Observations
Introduction: Northern Observation Posts

Keep an eye on the 17 yellow stars on our migration maps. They mark our "Northern Observation Posts" (NOP). Thanks to volunteers at these sites, we'll continue to have migration sightings as robins cross the map even in regions where fewer people live. Who's waiting? What's happening now? Has any NOP seen or heard their first robin?

Montana students for Northern Observation Post at work in their classroom

Photo: S. Paulson
Waiting for Robins
Slideshow: Citizen Science

An Illinois observer reported the first robin on March 3, saying: "The same date as our first sighting in 2011!" A Michigan observer noted, "This has been a strange year. Usually, I have the return of the red-winged blackbirds, the robins, and then the bluebirds. This year it has been reversed but at least the robins are back."

These sightings tell us interesting data about the spring 2012 migration. They came from citizen scientists in action. Reporting from their own backyards, anyone and everyone can be a citizen scientist. How can you contribute to scientific research and discovery? Find out in this week's slideshow:

Cover of booklet
Citizen Science

Ask the Expert Now Open.
Send questions before March 16!

Latest Maps: Where Are Robins Now?
Northern robins may wander from one feeding area to another during winter, but they aren't set on their spring migratory course until they can eat worms. These maps show where people have reported robins and earthworms. Patterns emerge as citizen scientists report their observations. What do you notice this week?
Robin Migration Map: First Robin Robin Migration Map: Waves of Robins Robin migration map: First robins heard singing Earthworm migration map
First See

Report Your Sightings! What, Where & How
First robin of spring Waves of robins Singin robin First earthworm of spring
The First Robin You

Robins migrating in Waves

The First Robin You
Hear Singing

Your first sighting of Earthworms

The next Robin migration update will be posted on March 13, 2012.