Winter range, habitat and movement
Winter Diet and Foraging
American Robin (birds) is from Tortoise Branch family. They can be found all over the United States, in fact, most of North America.
Bird watchers often see these famous birds as a sure sign that spring has begun, although their movement patterns may surprise many. So, where do American robins go in winter?
American robins are territorial during the spring and summer breeding season, but become migratory or nomadic during the winter. Depending on where they breed, the birds may fly more than 1,000 miles south to their wintering grounds in the United States and Mexico, or stay in the same area year-round.
American robins migrate long distances to escape the harsh conditions of northern winters, but also search locally for fruits and berries, their main winter food source.
Many bird watchers believe that their local robins have flown south for the winter when in reality they have simply moved to a local forest to eat berries.
The berries are often localized, causing the birds to suspend their territorial behavior and gather in flocks that can number in the hundreds. They then migrate from one region to another, taking advantage of available food resources.
This unexpected change in behavior can come as a surprise, making bird watching even more fascinating. Read along with us to learn all the interesting facts you need to know about the winter American robin.
American robin foraging for berries on the ground in winter
Winter range, habitat and movement
The American robin has a wide range of winter activities, including suitable feeding grounds throughout most of the United States and most of Mexico. Their actions depend largely on food availability. Read on for a more detailed explanation.
Are American robins flying south for the winter?
American robins are partial migrators, which means that not all of these birds migrate in the same way. Some move only short distances, and may even fly north if they are brought to lower elevations where food resources are more plentiful.
American robins, which spend spring and summer in Canada and Alaska, fly south for the winter to escape the harsh northern winter. However, they live year-round on the West Coast, as far as the southern coast of Alaska.
What is the winter range in American Robbins?
The American robin is found in every one of the lower 48 states in the winter. However, these birds are not found in the far north of the American Midwest. American robins also visit much of northeastern and northwestern Mexico in winter.
In some areas of their vast North American range, these birds are only seen in winter. These winter-only areas include the southern parts of the following states:
- new mexico
Close up of American Robin on snow
Where do American robins live in winter?
Most American robins overwinter south of their summer breeding grounds. For others, it may only be necessary to move short distances to suitable habitat at lower elevations. However, some birds will remain in similar habitats year-round if there is an abundant winter food source.
American robins frequent the following habitats during winter:
- agricultural area
Birds forage for berries and fruit this time of year, and are especially common where invasive berry-producing plants like holly and tallow are present.
American robin perched on a snow-covered branch in winter
Winter is a difficult time for birds as environmental conditions become harsh, food becomes scarce and even drinking water becomes difficult to find. Read on to learn how American robins survive harsh winters.
How do American robins prepare for winter?
American robins prepare for winter by migrating, or leaving, the coldest parts of their range for more hospitable areas. In some places, these movements may be slopes from high altitudes and mountains to low-lying areas and valleys. In other cases, birds may simply move to nearby habitat that supports winter-bearing plants.
How do American robins keep warm?
American robins have a number of tricks to keep them warm when the temperature drops. Like other birds, they can loosen their feathers to create a layer of air around their bodies. This layer of air is heated by their body heat and insulated by their feathers.
The American robin maintains a steady body temperature of 104°F (40°C) by metabolizing food. Their diet of sugar-rich fruits and berries is great for providing extra calories this time of year.
However, these birds may need to eat throughout the day to store enough energy to last overnight.
Winter scene of American robin foraging for berries
Winter Diet and Foraging
What do American robins eat in winter?
The American robin switched from a diet of insects and invertebrates to a diet of fruits and berries. They do this because insects become scarce and often inaccessible in winter. Winter fruiting plants provide an easily accessible and energy-dense food source at this time.
The following plant species are valuable winter food sources:
Do American robins store food for winter?
American robins have been known not to store food for the winter.
Robin in the snow
American robins drink water year-round, but finding unfrozen sources of water can be a challenge in the middle of winter. These birds get most of the water they need from fruit and berries, but they also eat snow when liquid water is not available.
American robins seek out sources of unfrozen water during the winter. Setting up a heated water basin is a great way to provide them with unfreezing water year-round.
Do American Robins Go to Feeders in Winter?
American robins rarely visit feeders in winter because they are foraging for fruit trees and shrubs. However, at this time they may occasionally feed on fruit and berries placed on the ground or in feeders. Planting winter-bearing plants or providing fresh liquid water are better options for attracting these birds during winter.
American Robin drinking water from puddle in winter
Many birders are familiar with the sight of American robins foraging on lawns in spring and summer. During the warmer months, they also often call, even before the sun rises in the morning. Read on to learn how their behavior changes in winter. Some of these facts may surprise you!
Spotting the American Robin in Winter
Spotting American robins in winter can be a bit of a hit and miss. The surest way to spot them is to visit areas where winter-bearing plants are plentiful. These birds can be seen in flocks of hundreds or thousands, making for an exciting birding experience.
Are American Robins Active in Winter?
American robins are still active in winter, although many birders believe the birds are gone as they leave their breeding grounds and their singing decreases. Rather than hunting for bugs in particularly obvious parks and backyards, these birds form nomadic flocks and hunt for winter fruit trees.
What do American robins do in winter?
American robins leave our yards and other lawn areas in winter and become non-territorial. They may start long-distance migrations, or simply roam the local area in search of edible fruit trees.
American Robin standing in the snow
Do American Robins Have Winter Feathers?
American robins do not have significantly different winter plumage. Adult birds undergo a complete molt once a year from summer to fall. However, the extra down that grows in the fall helps keep the birds cozy over the winter.
Do American robins flock in winter?
American robins gather in flocks in winter. Flocks can be large, consisting of hundreds of birds, but also small flocks of a dozen or so.
Do American Mockingbirds Nest in Winter?
American robins do not build nests in winter. These birds nest between April and July in spring and summer. However, times vary depending on the climate of the region.
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I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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