Robin Peak Migration Month Begins

March 6, 2019 by Team Journey North

March is the peak month for robin migration. The urge to migrate is building as the breeding season approaches. Watch for a shift in robin behavior as day length increases, temperatures warm, and grounds thaw.

“Spotted 9 robins resting in a grove of trees…Their singing caught my attention and immediately melted my heart.” Submitted by Jennifer. (Mason, OH; 03/02/2019)

Getting Restless

Robins feel restless, ready to migrate. Their whole body is urging them to establish a territory, mate, and raise babies—but they can’t start any of these until they arrive on their breeding grounds. Increasing day length triggers their urge to return north. As days get longer and warm temperatures melt snowcover, look for signs that robins are switching from their winter diet of berries to their spring diet of earthworms. Report what changes you are seeing and hearing in your backyard habitats.

As Mike noted: “Saw huge waves at sunset. Had hundreds roosting in evergreen trees in my back yard. Too many to count!” (Waxhaw, NC; 02/25/2019)

As Joseph wrote: “Must have been a couple hundred in our back yard, all very busy on the ground. Could not see what they were searching for. After an hour, they were all gone. Maybe we’ll see them tomorrow.” (Hawkins, TX; 02/28/2019)

As Erica commented: “Great flocking of 100+ robins ascended in our yard and neighbor’s yard in our bordering trees and shrubs. This great activity lasted 5 hours, and it’s something we have seen in other years. Must be all the berries and pool cover fresh water that invites our remarkable robin fest. Spring cannot be far behind!” (Atlantic Highlands, NJ; 03/02/2019)

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.