The Mercury News

Influx of robins likely due to weather changes

- The Animal Life column runs on Mondays. Contact Joan Morris at AskJoanMor­

DEAR JOAN >> I'm wondering what's going on with all the robins flitting around here.

I live in the Crossings in Concord, and during the past couple of weeks, there have been 50 to 60 — sometimes it looks like 100-plus — robins hunting, flitting, flying and hopping around our central green space.

More than 10 have visited our yard several times looking for something to eat and enjoying our bird bath. In the past few years, I felt lucky to see two or three robins in total visiting for spring.

Many people have commented on the abundance of robins this year. Do you know what magic happened to bring them out in such great quantities?

— Debby Butterwort­h, Concord

DEAR DEBBY >> I had an almost identical letter from C.J. of Oakley — and thousands of robins have been seen in Southern California, where those birds usually are more scarce. It seems the entire state is experienci­ng an “irruption,” a sudden influx of birds not usually seen in an area or not seen at that time of the year.

The American robin is a more-or-less permanent Northern California resident. They migrate only short distances in search of food and water, so we often see that proverbial first robin of spring in the autumn and winter.

Avian experts aren't sure what's going on with the irruption, but believe environmen­tal factors may play a role. Sierra snow may have pushed the robins who live there to warmer climes. The birds primarily eat insects and berries, which are hard to find under several feet of snow. The Bay Area is awash in both, thanks to all the rain we've had.

When it warms up and food becomes more abundant back home, they may head back — but with the birds' mating season fast approachin­g, they may end up sticking around.

DEAR JOAN >> My 12-yearold Chihuahua-terrier mix is being treated for possible liver issues with antibiotic­s, prednisone and denamarin.

I have noticed that she licks carpets and used pee pads. We have installed laminate flooring. I told the vet, and she does not have an idea what causes the dog's behavior. I wonder if you have a thought. — Douglas Walsh,

San Leandro

DEAR DOUGLAS >> There are a couple of reasons your dog has taken to licking the carpets. The least likely is that she's trying to find crumbs. Having perhaps found one there once before, she just keeps trying her luck. I speak from experience with my own food-obsessed Chihuahua.

However, as the licking also extends to the pee pads, it's most likely that the cause is related to her illness — either the illness itself or a side-effect of the medicine. The behavior is often seen when pets are ill or feeling stress. They might be looking for something in the fibers that their bodies are telling them they need, or it might just be comforting to them.

The only harm in the licking is that your pup might ingest some fibers that could block her intestines. Try giving her a plush dog toy as a substitute and use Bitter Apple or Bitter Lemon dog deterrent sprays on the areas she's been licking.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States