Unpave the Way for Robins

These projects can help you make better lives for your backyard robins throughout the year, and make robin journeys north and south safer and easier:

Planting for the Birds!

Photo credit: Anne Cook
Migrating and wintering robins need a lot of calories to survive. One way you can make a big difference is to plant the trees and shrubs they most rely on. Fall is a good time to plant; garden stores often have good prices, and many of these plants do best when planted in fall. Some plants that provide nourishing berries or fruits for robins are listed below. Your local nursery, greenhouse, or plant store will know which of these and other fruiting plants grow best in your region. Try to choose species that are native to North America and to the region where you live.

Summer berry trees and shrubs Fall berry trees and shrubs Winter berry trees and shrubs
serviceberry dogwood bittersweet
red mulberry silverberry hackberry
wild plum winterberry hawthorn
pin cherry apple red cedar
chokecherry mountain ash highbush cranberry
blackberry   crabapple

Build a Robin Feeder

Natural food for robins is so abundant in late spring and summer that robins just simply don't visit feeders then. But when the weather is bad in late fall, winter, and early spring, they sometimes visit feeding stations for berries, cherries, bits of apple, and — especially — mealworms. You can buy mealworms at local pet shops and bird feeding stores, or get them in bulk from a mail order supply house such as Grubco.

Set fruit out on a deck railing or platform feeder. Set out mealworms in a bowl on a deck or flat feeder, or do what Mike Houle in Wisconsin did: Set them in a dish heated with a birdbath heater. Be patient. People don't usually set out feeders for robins. If your neighborhood robins have never encountered feeders, it may take them a while to learn this new skill

Build a Robin Nest Platform

Robins nest in trees. They also nest in nooks and crannies on houses, street lights, and other human structures. To help, build a robin nest platform using these Nest Platform Plans from Carrol Henderson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Protect Robins from Predators

Backyard robins are vulnerable to migrating and local hawks and local cats. Robin eggs and babies are vulnerable to crows and squirrels. To help them, make sure your yard has cover — that is, plants with thick foliage, such as spruce and cedar, where the birds can hide. Encourage your neighbors to keep their cats indoors. And learn about the American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors Project.

National Science Education Standards

  • Organisms have basic needs. They can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met.