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More Robins Are Sticking Around in Winter

By Pat Leonard
American Robin by David Stimac
American Robin by David Stimac.
From the Winter 2017 issue of Living Bird magazine. Subscribe now.

It’s not your imagination. Project FeederWatch data from November to April over the past 25 years show that more American Robins are sticking around for the winter in the North or arriving earlier on their northern breeding grounds.

During the winter of 2015–16, robins visited 68 percent of FeederWatcher backyards in the northeastern United States, more than double the 32 percent of backyards visit­ed by robins in 1989–90. Even in the Far North (northern Canada and Alaska), robin vis­itation rates to FeederWatch­er sites are up (11 percent in 2015–16 compared to 6 per­cent in 1989–90). Robin flock sizes in the Northeast and Far North have more than dou­bled, too.

Urban landscaping may be a factor, as robins are primar­ily fruit eaters in winter. The trend may also reflect warm­ing winter temperatures and reduced snow cover. Check out Project FeederWatch trend reports for American Robins and many other species.

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