|photo by Anne Greene|
The American robin is as ubiquitous a bird as can be found in
New England. Breeding from Texas to and coast to coast Roger Tory Peterson described this bird in the first edition of his now canonical guide as, “the one bird that everyone knows”. Making messy, mud and grass nests on window sills, in fruits trees, and garage gutters they fill summer evenings with a nostalgic sound and wake the forest each morning. Despite entrenched Alaska New England lore, robins are not the harbingers of spring. Instead, robins migrate short to medium distances or over winter in New England eating up frozen crab apples and bittersweet berries. Often the winter robins found in New England are in fact hardier Canadian birds that will head north come March, replaced by more southerly birds that will spend the summer nesting in New England backyards. Don’t pass over these already known and easily identified birds as more careful observation will actually unlock the gender of a robin. Male birds have a much darker head, soot black in contrast to their dark grey back and a deeper orange belly. Females have more washed out general appearance with dusty head and back and muted orange belly. This is a good reminder that seeing any bird is a chance to learn something new.