As in large parts of the US, it has been bitterly cold here in Maryland. The bird feeders in the yard are hopping with birds, as are the birdbaths. When everything else is frozen solid, a heated birdbath is a big draw for birds . . . and ok, also squirrels and neighborhood cats. Everyone is looking for a place to get a drink.
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.
All birds need water. If you make sure it is available to them year-round, you’ll find that it can be as much of an attraction as putting out seed or suet. In fact, birds that might have no interest in eating at a feeder may come to visit your yard if there is water available. Providing water when the temperatures dip into freezing levels, requires some adjustments, but it isn’t hard.
Today is cool and grey and damp here in Maryland. It’s not the kind of day where you wake up with an overwhelming desire to spend the day outdoors. In fact, staying inside wrapped in something warm is appealing. But often the grey wet days can be the most interesting bird days in the yard.
Yesterday was the first day of spring. Even when the temperatures are still cold and winter-like, the birds seem to know that spring is here. If you pay attention, you can find signs of spring bird activity in your own backyard or at local birding spots. I’ve seen quite a few signs of spring in the past few weeks.
One thing I’ve learned watching birds in my backyard is that there is all kinds of activity going on in the yard that I never see. Today, about five-thirty, it was getting dark and I just happened to glance out the front window and realized that it was full of American Robins. I counted twenty-four, although there might have been more in the darkening yard. They were all spread out over the whole front yard doing their quick scurry, pause and listen, scurry again dance, turning over leaves and excavating here and there, looking for choice insects.
A really good heated birdbath can be expensive. While I did look at birdbaths when they were on sale this fall at my local bird store, I just couldn’t spring the money for one. As well as the price of a good one (although it really was a good sale), I had a few other concerns.