I’ve been watching the Robins pecking through last winters leaves in their search for earthworms, snails, grubs and insects.
We tend to think of sightings of American Robins as signs of spring, but Robins are in fact year-round residents in most of the lower 48 US states.
How Come I Don’t See any Robins in Winter?
During the winter months, Robins form very large flocks and move around in search of fruit. This includes holly berries, cranberries, viburnums, cedar berries, and crabapples.
Once a flock has eaten all of the berries and fruit in one location, they’ll move on to another site that still has fruit.
So if you would like to see Robins in winter at your bird garden, make sure you plant plenty of native shrubs and trees that have fruits that persist through the winter.
How to Attract Robins to your Wildlife Garden
- Leave your leaf litter on the ground over the winter. During the warmer months, Robins eat mostly earthworms, snails, and insects. Your leaf litter provides ideal conditions for these organisms, making a ready buffet for the Robins.
- Do not use pesticides in your garden. First off, they kill everything this bird needs to eat. Also, pesticides leave a residue on the leaves, which poisons the earthworms and ultimately the Robin. Because Robins are ground feeders, they are particularly sensitive to these chemicals. Many wildlife rehabilitaters report treating pesticide poisoned Robins through the seasons.
- While many Robins do build their nests in tree branches, they have also adapted quite well to our buildings and decorations. I’ve seen them nesting atop porch lights, hanging flower baskets, and window ledges. You can encourage this by building a platform for nesting.
- Provide water. Even during the winter when there was over 4 feet of snow on the ground, the Robins were lined up at the heated dog water bowl I keep for the birds to drink from. It is not unusual for 10 or more Robins to be bathing in my wildlife pond at the same time.
You can set plates of over-ripe fruit at ground level for the Robins to enjoy. The added bonus of this is that you will also attract several types of butterflies, such as Painted Ladies and American Ladies.