LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – With bellies full of red feathers, robins are always a welcomed sign in Michigan. Many Michiganders have always been on the lookout for the state bird as winter changes to spring. The idea that robins are a sign of spring, it is not quite the case.
Mary Bohling, a Sea Grant Educator with MSU Extension, says not all robins migrate south in the winter. Robins, like people, some migrate and some stay year-round. The main reason for migration is not just the weather, but available food sources. During the summer, robins eat insects and worms while their winter diet includes berries from trees and shrubs.
With robins being residents all through the year, why don’t we see them much during the winter? Many of the plants producing berries are in wooded areas where robins are not as visible. As their food source get depleted, robins start searching for berries where they are more visible.
Bohling says when we start to see temperatures on a regular basis that get up over 37, 38 degrees that’s when things start warming up, and it’s feeling a little more like spring, and we may see some of those birds that had gone south for the winter start moving back further north again.
Though we may see robins all year in Michigan, it does not mean they are the same robins. Scientists have tracked robins and found many robins who spend the summer in Michigan travel further south. Then the robins that live in Michigan during the winter could be spending the summer up north in Canada.
Even if robins are not exactly a sign of spring, their behavior could be hinting towards a new season. When a robin is at a location to stay, which typically is around breeding season, they will sing on their territory. They will sing in hopes to attract a mate.
Check out the video above for the complete story in this week’s Weather Wednesday.