American Robins

Robin Life

Since robins live in my Northern California backyard all year long, watching how their actions change allows me to understand a small piece of how seasons change.

In February, when I count birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count, robins seem to fly as flocks of sometimes up to 20 birds. They like a nearby slope full of berried shrubs that in February are heavy with bright red snacks.

A robin in our backyard on a sunny hill, Northern California, 3/2009

As the weather warms and becomes drier, I spot robins more often on the lawn. They should be called lawn-runners, the way they like to scurry short distances instead of flying off into the sky. My favorite recent observation was when a robin hopped through one of the diamond openings of our latticework garden gate rather than fly over it.

The nesting period in Northern California is from April to June. I don't think we have ever been lucky enough to have nesting robins in our yard. Robins make cup-shaped nests in parts of trees that are sheltered from rain. Inside they watch over pale blue eggs. In our yard, the trees have perhaps not grown tall enough for robin nests.

In the summer, our local robins like our hill full of shrubs. Although the hill bakes in sun from the south, perhaps the shrubs provide some shade and also insects and worms that are a main summer food source.

In the fall, I don't think I see as many robins around our backyard, but now I want to keep a close eye out for them, since I would like to watch them spin their rusty red color around our yard dotted with pumpkins.

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