This morning I looked out the window and saw a multitude of mature male and juvenile Robins scattered over the yard and in the shrubs. There may have been some females mixed in, but they were all moving and flying from one low shrub to another, and I only got good looks at the dark-headed mature males and the spotty-breasted juveniles that stood out. Flocking provides some level of safety, since there are more eyes and ears alert for potential danger, as I witnessed this morning. One bird saw me while I was in the kitchen, and he took off, immediately causing all the others to move across the yard. The females may still be raising their last brood of the summer, and when those young fledge, they and the females will be joining these flocks, too.
These birds are most likely ones that nested in our yard or neighboring yards and woods this year and last year or were just hatched this summer, as Robins typically return to the same nesting area year after year. They’re preparing for winter and for their fall migration now, eating worms as they can find them (somewhat scarce due to the dry conditions right now), insects, and berries. We have some magnificent pokeweed plants that are the size of shrubs, and the berries are just now ripening– a bountiful feast for birds.
When food supplies diminish in the fall, most of these birds will be flying to points south, not necessarily the same places as they’ve gone before. Some stay in the north, so though we often look upon our first Robin sighting as a harbinger of spring, we may just be seeing an overwintering bird. Birds that stay north will mostly eat fruit (berries and other fruits they can find), but there isn’t enough for the whole population, so many fly south where food will be more readily available.