About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why am I seeing bluebirds and robins in the winter?

Hello, I have several bluebirds in my yard and I've never had them before!  Are they migratory?  Why are they here now?? I also had a robin yesterday! Kind of worried about them, should I be? ~ Marcia

There is no need to worry. Some America Robins migrate but if you look at the range map you’ll see that there are winter populations of Robins in most states year round. Robins are surprisingly hardy birds, capable of surviving temperatures well below zero. But that doesn’t mean sightings are common.

After nesting season has ended, they usually form large nomadic groups that roost at night in the woods. Their diet changes from mostly worms and insects to fruit, nuts and berries. I’ve seen them devouring our crab apples, Mountain Ash tree berries, and sometimes under my feeders looking for nuts. They also appreciate open water in the winter. If you have a pond or heated birdbath they may show up for afternoon drinks.

The Eastern Bluebirds also gathers in large family flocks at the end of nesting season and live more in the woods. They forage on fruit, nuts, and berries. If you have fruiting trees or bluebird feeders and a reliable source of water, you may host the bluebirds year-round.

With the lengthening of daylight the birds are becoming more active. Nesting season is just around the corner. Make sure your houses are ready and feeders and baths are full.

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WisconsinWildMan said...

I bought a nest box last fall; how early is too early to put it up?

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

It's never too early or too late to put up a bird house. If you listen, you’ve probably already noticed the excitement in the air. Every day the sun is rising a little earlier and the days are getting longer. Pretty soon you’ll be able to watch the birds outside sitting on the tips of branches and breaking out in song to mark their territory.

It’s hard to believe, but a lot of the birds that winter in your area have already begun to scout for good nesting areas. Bluebirds and other cavity nesting birds typically begin nesting in March depending on where you live. But if you put up the house too late or your house isn’t used at first don’t worry. Birds usually have more than one brood per season and may switch to a new site for their second or third brood. Or if a birds' first nesting is unsuccessful, perhaps due to predators, they may appreciate a better nest box.

So, you can put houses up year round. Some birds will even use nest boxes as roosting sites in the winter.