Singing in Spring

February 21, 2018 by Rita Welch

As March approaches, get ready to report singing robins. Learn how to distinguish the robin's true song from other common vocalizations.

Only male robins sing the true song. It’s the best sign that they are back to claim a territory. Image:

Tracking Robin Song

Across the continent, male robins will begin to sing as they arrive on territory. Tracking the robins’ true song is a reliable way to predict when the wave of spring migration will reach you.

  • Watch for a clear south to north progression on the robin song map

Looking and Listening

People continued to report their sightings of robins foraging for food and drinking/bathing at water sources. As they described the behaviors they were seeing, observers were also listening carefully for robin vocalizations.

The first reports of robins singing their True Song typically begin near the end of February and reach a peak during the month of March. Singing, like many other behaviors — including migration— is governed primarily by changing day length. As days get longer, a bird’s hormone levels change and stimulate changes in physiology and behavior to prepare for breeding.

Reporting True Song

You’ll know your neighborhood robin has arrived when he wakes you up at dawn and sings continuously. 

Note that some robins may produce the first songs on their wintering grounds, but the vast majority wait until they are actually back on territory before singing.

Robin Vocalizations