Waves of Robins On the Move

February 20, 2019 by Team Journey North

Waves of American Robins have been seen across the United States. From Florida to Minnesota and New Mexico to Oregon, Journey North citizen scientists are submitting photos and documenting the 2019 spring migration of American Robins.

“American Robins are moving across our lawn and up and down into trees” reported Carl of from Sebastian, FL (02/11/2019)

Waves and Waves of American Robins 

Increasing day length triggers migratory robins to return north. Waves of migrating American Robins can still be seen favoring their winter diets of berries. As temperatures rise and snow begins to melt, robins will shift their eating habitats to earthworms. Journey North citizen scientists are already seeing these behaviors. 

As Pat noted: “We had an oak tree full of fussing squirrels because a cat was interrupting their nut burying activities. Above the squirrels were several robins (probably many more than I could see) waiting so they could feed on the fruit that was falling all over off our black cherry trees. It was VERY BUSY in the front yard today!” (Jacksonville, FL; 02/05/2019)

As Wade wrote: “First big wave of American Robins. They were feeding on last fall’s fruit and searching for food in sod. Temperatures this week have really moderated and today was in the low 50s.” (Shenandoah Junction, WV; 02/06/2019)

As Erica commented: “This afternoon we noticed LOTS of robins in our trees. They finished off the apples that were still hanging in our tree. Once the apples were mostly gone, the numbers of robins decreased. Our neighbor slightly up the hill reported about 50 robins in her yard yesterday.” (Hood River, OR; 02/10/2019)

Help Us Track American Robins

Use the spring checklist to learn what to watch for this spring—wintering robins, first robins, first signing robins, waves of robins, first earthworms, and nesting behavior.

Help Us Track American Robin First Territorial Song

Across the continent, male robins arrive first on breeding grounds and begin to defend their nesting grounds by singing (and sometimes fighting). With March just a few weeks away, get ready now to report the song of these male robins by listening to the robin’s territorial song (which is different from other common vocalizations). Tracking the first songs of male robins is a reliable way to predict when the wave of spring migration reaches you.

  • Watch for a clear south to north progression on the robin song map
  • Learn to distinguish the True Song from other common vocalizations. Note that some robins may produce the first songs on their wintering grounds, but the vast majority wait until they are on breeding and nesting grounds.