Red-chested har­bin­ger of spring

The Daily Observer - - NEWS - KEN HOOLES

For many of us, one of the most pop­u­lar birds in North Amer­ica has to be the Amer­i­can Robin. Just as the snow be­gins to dis­ap­pear, this bright red-chested bird sud­denly ap­pears on our lawn. With its ar­rival, we all give a sigh of re­lief, for spring can­not be far be­hind.

The Amer­i­can Robin (Tur­dus mi­gra­to­rius) is one of the most com­mon and widely dis­trib­uted birds in North Amer­ica. It is also the most well- known bird, and it is one of the first birds that we can iden­tify as a child. This bird tends to like ar­eas of shaded trees and can best be seen in wooded ar­eas, parks, gar­dens, and other agri­cul­tural ar­eas.

Both the male and fe­male have a red chest, the males hav­ing a brighter red colour. Both have a black back and head, a white eye-ring and a bright yel­low bill. The young tend to have a spot­ted breast. This bird can also be iden­ti­fied by its dis­tinc­tive call of “cheer­ily, cheer-up, chee­rio” sound.

The Robin is nor­mally a soli­tary bird and is usu­ally found alone or in pairs. In win­ter, they be­come more social and are found in large flocks, es­pe­cially dur­ing mi­gra­tion pe­ri­ods. This bird likes to eat earth­worms, berries, and other fruit. In the win­ter, it can sur­vive off berries and fruit.

The Amer­i­can Robin is monog­a­mous. It will build its nest in a tree, over­hang of a build­ing, or any nest­ing shelf, as long as it is high enough to be safe from preda­tors and pro­tected from the rain. The Robin can be very ag­gres­sive in pro­tect­ing its nest­ing area from dan­ger.

The Robin has one to three broods per year de­pend­ing on its lo­ca­tion. In the north, it tends to have one to two broods, while in the south it can have up to three broods per year. The fe­male Robin in­cu­bates the blue eggs for 12-14 days. The young re­main in the nest an­other 14-16 days and are fed by both par­ents.

The Amer­i­can Robin is in no dan­ger of ex­tinc­tion. Be­ing one of the most adapt­able birds in North Amer­ica, it is found in north­ern Alaska, all across Canada and the United States, and as far south as south­ern Mex­ico. In the win­ter, the Robins in the north mi­grate to Florida, south­ern Texas, and var­i­ous parts of Mex­ico.

On the lo­cal scene, some early first wave spring birds are just ar­riv­ing. I have re­ceived re­ports of early Robins and Red-winged Black­birds. There have also been sev­eral flocks of Canada Geese fly­ing over the area, and fu­ture flocks may have some Snow, Cack­ling or Greater White-fronted Geese among them. There are also sev­er­alRough-legged Hawks through­out the area as these hawks slowly pass through on their way north. Ex­pect the ar­rival of Com­mon Grack­les, Killdeer, Amer­i­can Wood­cock, and Rusty Black­birds. When the rivers and lakes be­gin to open more, you can also ex­pect the ar­rival of Mal­lard Ducks and then Hooded Mer­gansers, and per­haps some early Great Blue Herons.

In terms of the late win­ter north­ern mi­grants, I sus­pect we will not get any or per­haps a few late Com­mon Red­polls and Pine Siskin. There is still a pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting more Dark-eyed Jun­cos as some of these birds should re­turn through our area from the United States. Keep an eye on your fruit trees as well, as there is a pos­si­bil­ity that a few Bo­hemian Waxwings may re­turn from the east, pass­ing through on their way west.

The first re­port of a Red-winged Black­bird was made by Cathy Van Starken­burg of Micks­burg on Feb. 2. The sec­ond re­port of Red­winged Black­birds was by Fred Haines of Petawawa on March 1. Since then I have had many in­for­mal re­ports of these birds as well as of Robins.

Around this same pe­riod of time, Rob Cun­ning­ham of Bar­ren Canyon Road spot­ted an early Amer­i­can Kestrel in the Osce­ola area. Ex­pect more sightings of these lit­tle hawks over the next few weeks.

Fi­nally, on March 2, John Mead­ows of West­meath re­ported sev­eral Canada Geese on the Ot­tawa River in front of his home. I have been get­ting re­ports that there are thou­sands of Canada Geese all along the St. Lawrence River wait­ing to head up north.

Please call me with your bird sightings and feeder re­ports at 613735-4430, or email me at hooles@ . For more in­for­ma­tion on up­com­ing events or other links to na­ture, just Google the Pem­broke Area Field Nat­u­ral­ists’ web­site, or like us on Face­book.


An Amer­i­can Robin (Tur­dus mi­gra­to­rius) eat­ing berries in an early spring snow­storm.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.