When we think about American Robins, many of us think, “Spring!” But these very common birds are actually around all year long in much of the United States. While some in the north do migrate southward, in many areas, they stick around if there is food to be found. Their behavior changes in the spring though, which is probably why we tend to notice them more as the days start to lengthen and the weather warms. I thought today, the first day of spring, would be a good day to share some interesting tidbits about robins.
The most active and interesting days are often not the bright beautiful sunny days but the stormy days when birds are eager to eat as much as they can to keep energy levels high. Yesterday’s storm brought us just such a day with really interesting feathered visitors and activity, so I have pictures and stories to share with you.
This past weekend, Jim and I went in search of a Brown-Headed Nuthatch. Now, if you live in the southeastern US, you might be thinking, “Ho, hum. I see those all the time. What’s the big deal?” But here in central Maryland, it is not a nuthatch we see often. They don’t stop by our house and aren’t usually found in our local woods, so we had to go just a little further afield to find one.
Every day as dusk approaches, the Northern Cardinals gather in my yard. A lot of Northern Cardinals. I see between eighteen and twenty-two cardinals most evenings, although twenty-six have shown up for the party in recent weeks. While other birds are winding down their activities and heading back to their preferred snoozing spots for the night, the cardinals are busy filling up on safflower until well after darkness falls. I call it “cardinal cocktail hour.”
There is something very special about watching a new day begin. From quiet darkness, to the first early chirps, to the first few winged visitors, building to the busy activity of dozens, the local birds are a big part of the start of each new day. If you pay attention, you are likely to see patterns in the bird activity in your yard. Every yard is different and every day is different, but this is the pattern I see on a typical winter morning in my yard.
Maryland birders have been excited about Snow Buntings for the past week or so. They are not frequent visitors to our area, so when someone spotted four Snow Buntings along the pier at North Point State Park east of Baltimore, local birders began visiting the park in a steady stream to get a look at them.
On Sunday a Fox Sparrow came to visit. These little birds occasionally show up in our yard, but they aren’t regulars, so it is always fun to see one hopping around on the ground with the other sparrows.