Every April someone will say breathlessly that they saw their first robin: A hopeful sign that winter is ending and soon (but never soon enough) spring will be here.
But, now, in September when the leaves are beginning to fall and winter is knocking on the door, you might wonder, “Where will the American Robin go and what will they do in the deep freeze of winter?”
The answer might surprise you.
The robins in your yard might join together and flock to the south.
Or they might stay right where they are.
According to journeynorth.org, robins don’t so much migrate as they do wander. They tend to go south in search of food, but not necessarily. In the winter, when robins can’t get insects and worms, they eat fruits, but not seeds. If your neighborhood has lots of crabapple, hawthorne or late blooming fruit trees, the robins might stay, as long as there is food.
They don’t really have to worry about the cold because their feathers keep them warm. When the thermometer drops below zero, robins puff up their feathers. On the outside they might feel cold, but inside they are a toasty 104 degrees. Even the robin’s feet stay warm with their fast circulation that spreads warm blood quickly down to the tendons that control the feet.
When temperatures reach about 36 degrees, male robins especially begin flying toward their breeding territories.
That’s when the robins actually herald spring because once they are in their breeding areas, they start to sing.
So if you see a robin in winter, don’t worry. But if you hear a robin in the spring, smile. You’ve got some residents who are settling in for the first of their nesting cycles — up to about four a year.