Ask SIB … American Robins

Once again, this winter there is a lot of discussion about American Robins.  Below is a series of Q&A’s to share with all our readers.

American Robin – Ed Konrad

Question:  We’ve seen a flock of American Robins in the edge of scrub on the north side of Jenkins Point Road. Isn’t it early for them to be coming thru? We usually don’t see them until late February. (Submitted by: Andy Allen)

Answer:  Thanks for your question.  I always think of robins arriving around Christmas but actually saw them myself the first time this year on December 7.  I ran the historical charts in eBird for Charleston County and got the response below.  So apparently they are here year round but sightings start with frequency in early November. (Judy Morr)

American Robin Frequency in Charleston County 2016-2018. Data source:

Question:  If the robins are here all year why do we see them in large flocks-up to a hundred-only in Jan through March? (Submitted by: Andy Allen)

Answer: American Robins are not breeders on Seabrook – any summer visitors are vagrants – often young birds. They do range widely across North America from the edge of the tundra to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and are one of the more abundant birds of our continent. However, in winter, low temperatures and potential snow cover limit their range basically south of our border with Canada. Outside the breeding season robins tend to form social groups often roosting together and even foraging for food in smaller clusters. Growing up in Ohio, we often saw them feeding along roads where they had access to open areas. In Colorado, I’ve seen them feeing in the foothills where snow has been cleared by sun and wind.

Likewise on Seabrook, Robins are often found in small groups, feeding along our roads and other open areas. They probably like our golf courses. For sure they like the manure piles of the Equestrian Center. Unfortunately, in most winters, we have very few robins staying with us. In contrast, they were everywhere around the island in 2006. Weather? Winter numbers of a number of other species are also variable. It makes winters interesting.

I know of no studies on their migration? Do only more northern birds move south or does everyone fly at the appropriate time. I suspect there are details but I’ve not run across them. Its obvious our winter birds are migrants from elsewhere. I suspect their movements are regular and some may migrate diurnally (other thrushes are nocturnal migrants)? (Carl Helms)

To learn more about the American Robin, visit the blog we wrote a year ago. If you have a bird related question, just ASK SIB!

Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

2 thoughts on “Ask SIB … American Robins”

  1. Last Saturday morning I had a lot of robins in my yard. I have some bushes that have red berries on them. or I should say had a lot of red berries on them.I had fun watching them dive on the shrubs, fly up in the trees and then dive down for more berries. Needless to say, there are very few berries left on the bushes now.

    Jean Berner


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