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Where do Minnesota robins go in the winter?

Posted Jan 15 2009 5:50pm

I was surprised to look out my window this morning and see a flock of six or seven robins on my step.

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Why? Well, first, I’m not accustomed to seeing them in flocks. They’re usually alone when I see them, walking on the lawn, maybe stopping to pull on a worm. (I’ve since learned that during the breeding season, they like to spread out).

Secondly, I live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and it was 15 degrees below zero this morning when I spotted them. All the smart worms tunneled under along time ago (or whatever it is worms do before the topsoil freezes). 

Not being knowledgeable about birds, my first thought was that they were cold and were gravitating to the heat from the door. I know…very silly. 

Then I noticed little round reddish droppings all over in the snow. Hmm. Looks like they’ve found some berries in the trees. On closer inspection, their beaks were red, not the traditional yellow. Berry stains.  

It turns out they will stay through the winter as long as there’s food. And along with thicker feathers, they keep themselves warm by shivering 

So why were they standing on the top step looking in the windows on either side of the door? 

That mystery was solved when my partner came home. “Did you see all the robins?” I asked. 

“Yeah,” he says. A minute later he’s heading out with a handful of stuff. I notice half an apple. I wonder how long he’s been feeding them. I wonder how many we’ll have tomorrow. 

Glad to see I’m not the only one putting on a little extra weight this winter.

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Some interesting sites about robins, includingwhat they like to eat,how snow depth affects their distribution, andhow they can stay warm even at 30 below,andtheir songs.

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Photos: K Stone

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