I looked out my cabin window around 4:00 PM yesterday and noticed dozens of males robins in the back field and a few taking at bath at the water trough that I keep filled. It’s robin migration time. (Image courtesy og en:User:Mdf, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
I was never aware of migrating robins when I lived in the valley. I associated them with warm weather, and knew they would start singing when it came time to attract a mate. So when I spent my first January in the mountains above Silicon Valley, I was surprise to see a flock of robins descend on our back meadow. There they stayed for several days. It happens every year around this date.
Not all robins migrate. It depends on where they live and what the food they can get. In the warmer months, they prefer to eat invertebrates like worms and insects. In the winter they like rich foods that include junipers, hawthorns, crab apples and other winter fruits and berries. The males migrate first, followed by the females, although I have yet to see a flock of females. They could also stop by, but because their chests are paler, it might be that the females haven’t caught my eye.
Migrating robins don’t sing. Singing starts only after they have arrived at their spring destination and are ready to attract a mate. For the next few days I’ll enjoy their presence and watch them snatch up earthworms and go after the insects that are starting to hatch. I’ll also try to capture a few images. However, the meadow is quite exposed so it is not easy to take a photo without disturbing them.