When robins return–it’s spring!

The American Robin is probably the most familiar bird in the country. It is found in every part of Canada where there are trees, including the Yukon and Labrador.
It adapted to civilization better than any other species, and can be found in the largest cities as well as in the wild woods.
As part of its adaptation to urban and rural life, the robin has taken up nesting in or on all sorts of man-made structures—houses, barns, sheds, even mailboxes and traffic lights.
It builds a substantial nest of grass, twigs, and mud. If you want robins to nest at your place, put up a single shelf in a sheltered area.
Robins usually rear two broods a year (three or four young in each) and often will raise a third—if weather and food are favourable.
The robin is really is thrush. It was named “robin” because of its red breast, which reminded homesick Englishmen of the Robin Redbreast of the British Isles.
The robin carries the characteristic breast spots only when young (the other thrushes have them all the time). All thrushes are beautiful singers, and our robin is no exception.
They are pretty fair travellers, too. While a few will pass the winter in the most southern parts of Canada, most of them winter in Florida, Mexico, and Central America. They migrate in very large flocks, sometimes up to hundreds of thousands.
In the 1800s, migrating robins were shot and trapped by the thousands and sold by the basketful in the markets of New York and Boston.
The spring migration always has had a considerable significance to the people of Canada. The first robin seems to signify the end of another long, cold Canadian winter.
Take note of the way the robins arrive in the spring—they seem to come in waves. The very first ones are those which likely are on their way to the territories or northern Manitoba.
Our permanent residents will come along in a later group.
Robins eat a lot of insects and fruit as well as the worms everyone knows about. In warmer areas, where fruit farms are common, they become a real pest, especially to the growers of strawberries and cherries.
One of my boyhood memories is of picking cherries at a big orchard north of my home. The robins descended on it like the plague.
One year, I had the job of “bell-ringer.” This meant walking up and down between the rows of trees continuously ringing an old school bell.
Not such a bad job. But after ringing that bell for 12 hours a day, you would have gladly given the robins the whole works!
The American Robin—Turdus migratorius—is the symbol of spring, and one of the very few species on this continent which really has benefited by the coming of the white man.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Posted in Uncategorized