Changing of the birds …

…The reason people think that Robin Red Breast is a sign of spring is that we believe that robins fly south for the winter and north for the summer, so when we see them, it must be getting near summer. The fact that many robins don’t migrate at all, but simply become reclusive for the winter, is not widely known….

Getting ready for Spring and Summer birding.


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    March 26, 2009

    That’s odd. In the UK Robin Red Breast (Erithacus rubecula, different species) appears is known as a winter bird, and gets associated with Christmas.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    March 26, 2009

    That’s a totally fake robin.

    Hey, you should see the robin in the old Mary Poppins movie. Now, THAT’s a real robin, even though it is supposed to be set in London.

  3. #3 Tony Sidaway
    March 26, 2009

    It’s Dick Van Dyke’s pet red thrush.

    Why do Americans call red thrushes “robins”? Nostalgia is my guess.

  4. #4 The Ridger
    March 26, 2009

    Plenty of colonists name something similar to what they miss after the names of the things they miss.

  5. #5 Richard Simons
    March 26, 2009

    I wonder how many of the robins that are seen in the winter are actually migrants from farther north? Twice a year, at our house in southern Manitoba, for a few days we have a stream of robins passing through, perhaps one or two birds a minute. They fly from one tree or bush to another a couple of houses along the road, briefly hop around the lawn, then they’re off again.

    Where I’m working, in central Manitoba, I saw the first spring migrant today, a bald eagle. I’m told that the crows are back, too.

    (BTW, they’re just big, red-breasted thrushes, not real robins.)

  6. #6 Gray Gaffer
    March 26, 2009

    As a Brit myself, I always had a problem with the big bird with the faded orange breast over here being called a Robin. It’s not. That one at is. I had a pair in my garden back then, so did my Grandparents. Breast is definitely Red.

  7. #7 Anne Gilbert
    March 27, 2009

    For the person that mentioned European robins, yes, they’re a different bird. Robins over here are officially(yes, officially!) called Aeremerican robins, and classified as Turdus migratorius. Though both European and American robins are part of the thrush family, more or less, about all they have in common is red breasts. American robins are more closely related to European blackbirds, which essentially look like melanistic American robins.

    And all (American) robins do migrate. However, they often don’t migrate very far,at least in climates where it doesn’t get terribly cold in the wintertime, and there are berries or old fruit on trees,or the ground usually stays soft enough to peck around for worms and grubs. Where I live, the robins I see in the winter(and yes, I see them all year round here), come from only a little farther north, plus some of them come from the dry, eastern 2/3 of my state. The “summer” robins just fly a little farther south. And sometimes they come back as early as late February and try to “set up shop”. They’re here now, singing their heads off, setting up territories and trying to attract mates. It’s spring, all right!
    Anne G