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James C. Leupold - USFWS

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American Robin

Robin Migration Update: March 10, 1998

Today's Report Includes:

Lastest Migration Map
(Click on face of map to enlarge.)
Today's Migration News & Data
Migrating robins must have cooled their heels during the cold arctic front that swept across the continent last week. Only 8 robins were sighted between March 10-15, compared to 29 robins March 3-8. According to our records from past years, robins push northward quickly in mid-March as soon as there's a break in the weather. Students in the northern U.S. states and Canada should be on the lookout and ready to report their FIRST robin sometime during the next 2 weeks.

* Note: There is often a delay between the time people SEE their first robin and the time they REPORT it. Therefore, remember that these data are a summary of all sightings REPORTED since the last update.

Robin Watching Suggestions
If you've already spotted your first robin of the season, don't stop looking! You can see many interesting things by observing robins carefully:

1. Watch for the first female robin to appear. Females usually come 1-2 weeks later than the males. The females' feathers are noticeably duller than those of the male. Compared to the males, the females look faded--like clothes that have been through the washing machine too many times.

2. Count the number of days between the arrival of the first robin (presumably a male) and the arrival of the first female. Let us know what you discover by sending e-mail to:

3. Listen carefully. When male robins arrive they don't sing as frequently as they do later, when the females are in town. Once a week, go outside where you know there are robins. Sit quietly for 5 minutes and count the number of times you hear a robin sing. How does the frequency change over time? Tell us what you've found at:

4. Watch for battles between the males. This is the time that territories are set up for the breeding season, and the fiesty males work hard to earn the best land they can. There are stories of robins who battle their own reflections in a window-- sometimes to the point of hurting themselves! If you see a territorial battle, send an e-mail message to Journey North and describe what you saw.

Challenge Question # 7
"Why do you think male robins return before the females? What are the advantages and disadvantages of coming early?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions at the end of this report.)

Discussion of Challenge Question #6
"Assuming a typical earthworm measures 6 inches, and one robin chick can eat up to 14 feet of worms a day, how many worms might an entire nest of 4 young robins demand from their parents in a day?"

"Four baby robins would eat 112 worms in a day. That's a lot of worms!", concluded 7th grade student Delia Culton of Iselin Middle School ( "And to think the parents have to feed themselves too," added Mrs. LaCoste's students in Osage, Iowa. (

Here's how students from Mrs. VanDeVelde's class at Wethersfield Elementary School in Illinios ( and Megan & Jeffrey of Bright Star Academy in San Antonio, TX worked out the worm problem:

1 worm = 6"
1 chick eats 14' /day
14' x 4 chicks = 56' / day
56' x 12" = 672"
672"/6" worm = 112 worms needed to feed 4 young robins each day.
Coming Next Week: Early Bird Contest
When do you predict the first robins will arrive in Anchorage, Alaska? Students based at Sand Lake Elementary in Anchorage will officiate the contest. Watch for instructions in next week's report.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 7
3. In the body of the message, answer today's question.

The Next Robin Migration Update Will be Posted on March 24, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.