What Can the Robins Find to Eat?
Elizabeth Howard

April 7, 2007
Robins returned to our Vermont town only one week ago. This week the cold snap hit. Temperatures dropped to 15°F at night. Brrrr! The ground was covered with snow. What would the robins eat? Where would they go?

We took a drive to look for robins. We saw robins flying in and out of a grove of sumac trees. We stopped to watch. The robins were stripping the dry sumac fruits with their beaks, hungrily gobbling it down. More robins were on the ground, picking up the falling fruit.

We came back to the same tree a day later. The robins were gone. They had "emptied" the tree and nothing was left to eat!

This robin on the side of the road was the first one we noticed.
Then we found a sumac tree with
more than 30 robins!
Can you find the nine robins in this picture? The colors of robins and sumac blend so well that the robins are hard to see.
Do you see how the robin stands on the fruit as it eats? Sumac is an emergency food for wildlife. It's available in the spring only because nobody ate it during the winter.
Do you see the stripped sumac frond behind the robin? He ate it!
Here's the only female among hundreds of males. Click photo to see the male in the background. How are their colors different?
Despite the cold snap, robins are feeding, flying and resting. They were glad to find the sumac!