Stillwater News Press


March 10, 2014

The Outdoor Almanac: Passing flocks

STILLWATER, Okla. — aFor the past few days you may have noticed great flocks of American robins around Stillwater.  There have been so many around my home that each morning a few collide with a window — which is making the neighborhood sharp-shinned hawk very happy and driving my bird dog crazy.

Most people do not realize this common yard bird is actually a thrush, closely related to the Eastern bluebird and the wood thrush. While the American robin is a year-round resident of Oklahoma, it is during winter that it is most abundant here.

Individual flocks can number in the thousands. The total continental population is estimated to be more than 300 million. That makes the American robin one of the most abundant birds in North America.

This abundance led it to be a popular bird for market hunting prior to the establishment of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916, which provided protection to most species of birds. Many millions were shot and consumed in the eastern U.S. during the winter months in the late 1800s when they congregated and made harvest easy.

During late winter, robins feed on a variety of foods. Eastern redcedar berries (technically they are cones rather than berries) make up a large portion of their diet in Oklahoma, as this plant is very plentiful. Flocks of wintering robins are nomads, here today and gone tomorrow.

Most of the robins in our area will be leaving in the next few days as they start migrating to their breeding areas as far north as the Arctic Circle. A few will stay, gradually establishing territories in neighborhood lawns. Over the next weeks, notice how numbers of robins dwindle and the remainder begin calling from territories.

Its melodic call will likely be one of the first sounds heard on warm spring mornings and is a pleasant start to the day.

Dwayne Elmore is Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist in the department of natural resource ecology and management.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Helium debate
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks