I saw my first robin of Spring today, hopping around in between the blooming crocus in my back yard.
It may interest some of you out there that when we Yanks speak about the first robin of Spring and the Brits talk about the robins at Christmas, we are talking about two different birds. It seems that a robin is not a robin is not a robin. Of course the question then becomes “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen robin? What do you mean? An American or European robin?” Well, maybe that is a question for another day.
The American robin is a victim of memory moniker misappropriation. Apparently settlers who were brave enough to make a 3 month sea journey, face native populations of unknown hostilities and wrenchingly carve out a life in a wild land had no energy left over to come up with original names for the animals they saw. When the first European settlers dared to hazard these rocky shores, they saw a little bird who reminded them of their own red breasted robin at home. So, they just said, “Screw it, I am tired. We’ll just call it a robin.”
While the robin is considered the harbinger of spring when it “returns”, it actually does not leave the area in the winter. The little American robin has once again been mis-classified. They do not migrate very far and over-winter in pretty much the same places that they summer in. They simply hide more in the winter, preferring to gather in large flocks in the woods, perhaps for warmth and perhaps to catch up on gossip from the summer. The fact that robins can produce 3 different broods in a single summer means that there is a whole lot of juicy “who’s sleeping with who” gossip to catch up on when the weather gets cold.
When the weather warms up, the flocks break up and the robin returns to our back yards and we squeal in delight because the robin has “come back”. Yeah, that trip from the MetroParks must have been exhausting.
Robins eat all sorts of tasty things. Everything from worms to fruit. BTW, in case you needed yet another reason not to use Chem-the-hell-out-of-it-Lawn, the robins you see in your back yard eat the worms from your back yard. If you use pesticides on your lawn, it gets in the worms, which get eaten by the robins and the robins die from pesticide poisoning. Tell that to the ChemLawn guy, the next time you see him. Just scream “You are killing Spring, you bastard!” I am sure it will at least freak him out enough that he will leave the area immediately.
Even if the robin does not really “come back” and has been here all along, it is still nice to see her once again gracing my back yard. It is still a sign that warm weather is just around the corner.