By Dawn Wilson
This week’s featured animal is the American robin. Several years back, I was in eastern Colorado in a blind to photograph prairie chickens. There was a group in the blind from the United Kingdom as well and they were participating in a bird tour. We all wound up at the same ranch after the morning outing for breakfast. As we walked out to the breakfast table, the British group was enthralled with a bird on the ground. It turned out to be an American robin that caught their attention. Something so common here in the U.S. made them squeal with glee. Here are a few fun facts about a bird that signifies spring for many.
1. Why were the Brits so fascinated by the American robin? It looks very similar to their national bird, the European robin. These two robins, however, are not related.
2. The favorite food of the American robin is the earthworm. These red-breasted birds of the thrush family also like to eat caterpillars, insects, fruits and berries.
3. Although robins are considered a harbinger of spring, not all robins migrate. Because of rising average temperatures in Colorado, robins are now also a harbinger of climate change. The National Audubon Society released a study in 2009 that showed robins stopped leaving Colorado in the winter. Using annual data from their late December bird counts, a 17-fold increase was observed for the American robin since 1966.
4. As one of the earliest birds to nest, American robins can have up to three broods of babies in one season.
5. Ever see a robin appear to be drunk? They very well may be. These birds love to eat berries, and as the berries linger on trees into winter and early spring, they ferment. Eating large quantities of these fermented berries can make the birds exhibit behaviors similar to being drunk.
Dawn Wilson is a professional and award-winning nature photographer who lives in Estes Park year-round. You can see more of her work, join one of her Rocky tours, and purchase prints and calendars at DawnWilsonPhotography.com.