So Many Robins!

American robin at an ornamental fruit tree (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

14 December 2019

Have you noticed it, too? There are so many robins in Pittsburgh right now!

American robins (Turdus migratorius) are versatile birds. They change their diet from insects and earthworms in summer to fruit in winter. They don’t care if it’s cold but they need lots of food in winter so they migrate more in response to food than to temperature.

Most robins move south in the fall but some remain north in large flocks that wander in search of abundant fruit. They choose Pittsburgh in December because we have lots of fruit on our native trees, ornamentals, invasive vines, and shrubs.

Here are just a few of the items on the robins’ menu.

Oriental bittersweet, Pittsburgh (photo by Kate St. John)
Bradford callery pear fruit, Pittsburgh, Nov 2012 (photo by Kate St. John)
Ornamental fruit tree, Dec 2019 (photo by John English)
Hackberries, a native tree (photo by Kate St. John)

When the fruit is gone and the ground is frozen, the robins will leave. I expect that to happen in early January.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons, Kate St. John and John English. Robin migration quoted from Journey North.)

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