Robin Migration Update: April 17, 2012
Please Report
Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
While we're waiting for some robins to reach the end of the migration trail, the breeding cycle is underway in places where robins are on territory. What general routes do robins follow as they make their journeys north? As Earth Day nears, solve a food chain mystery and uncover Rachel Carson's important discovery.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Robin with a mouthful of insects to eat.
Photo: Randy Indish
Thank Rachel Carson
News: What's Happening Now & What to Watch For
What's Happening Now
This spring's quick warm-up brought a rush of early robins that began singing on territory, showing they planned to stay. But many people at the far end of the migration trail are just welcoming robins—or still waiting. They report:
  • At 60 degrees N in Yukon Territories: We had a really early Redhead at the end of March but we're still looking for the robins, bears, and bluebirds.
  • At 46 degrees N in North Pole, AK: We still have a foot of snow on the ground in our yard. No chance of robins yet! But ...stay tuned.
  • At 57 degrees N in Alberta, Canada: Well the Robins finally showed up in our yard. It took a blizzard bring them in. It snowed all night and half of today. The birds were desperate for something to eat as everything is buried under 6 inches of wet snow.
  • At 64 degrees N in Fairbanks, AK: We awoke to the sound of an American Robin singing in our back yard, downtown. . .Spring is officially here!

Who's Still Waiting?
What about Shageluk, our northernmost observation post (latitude 62.65 N)? No robins yet, reports teacher Joy Hamilton. When she heard of her friend's sighting in Fairbanks (see above), she wondered about the migratory path of robins. What does think might explain robins in Fairbanks before they're in Shageluk? Click on the map at the right: explore North American Flyways.

Besides Shageluk, which other Northern Observation Posts are still waiting?

What to Watch For
Reports from observers tell what to what to watch for, depending upon where you are located.

  • At 53 degrees N in Edmonton, AB: After a low pressure area came through our area that started as rain Friday and turned to snow all day Saturday, I noticed an increase in our Robin population today. Tonight I must of counted at least 15 Robins, some being females already...The sun came out today melting the snow away from flower bed's and lawn's which brought the Robins in groups of 4-6, at times foraging for food. Lots of Robin calls and some practicing song.
  • At 47 degrees N in Washington: Mother Robin is quite round, fought off Stellar Jay, and now on nest all the time (first day staying on nest).
  • At 47 degrees N in Ontario: We were sitting in the sun porch and heard a robin singing. Earlier in the day I saw my first female sitting below the deck.

Male robin in snowy spring
Photo: Journey North

Snowy Spring

Male robin
Photo: Don Severson
I'm Home!
Four migratory flyways
Map: US Fish & Wildlife Svc
North American Flyways
Female robin
Photo: Don Severson
Where's My Boundary?
Spring phenology checklist for robins
For Spring Robin Observations
Explore and Journal: A Food Chain Mystery
In her book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson wrote about a chain of events that ended in a tragedy for robins. It all began because people wanted to protect American elm trees from a deadly disease. They sprayed the elm trees with an insecticide that contained a powerful chemical called DDT. The chemical pesticides ended up killing backyard robins long after the elm trees were sprayed.

Follow the robin's food chain to see what happened, and read about Rachel Carson's courage to voice her concerns. Introduction, article, journal page:

Image of Food Chain Mystery Lesson
A Food Chain Mystery
Latest Maps: Where Are Robins Now?
These maps show where people have reported robins and earthworms. Patterns emerge as citizen scientists report their observations. Singing robins reveal the temperature patterns of North America as we hear reports of robins singing at higher latitudes and at higher elevations.

Are worms where the robins are?
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 April 24, 2012.