This is the time of year that many northern areas of the United States are seeing their first robins, a sign that spring has finally arrived… unless you live in Ohio. Our robins have decided that migrating south is too much hassle.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Ohio and mistakenly believe that we typically have mild winters, here are a few other photos that I took the same day.
I thought I was being so clever while taking the above macro. After putting my camera away and tucking my mittened hands into my pockets, I realized that I had gotten too close to the plant and that there were burrs all over my mittens and now in the lining of my pockets.
Okay, so why are our robins sticking around all winter long? According to a newspaper article published by naturalist, Jim McCormac, it’s all due to this plant.
This Asian plant is all over Boyer Nature Preserve, and it is one of Ohio’s top invasive plants. During the winter enough Honeysuckle berries remain on these plants to “trick” the robins into staying. In his newspaper article, Jim McCormac explained that although these berries are plentiful, they are much lower in nutritional value than our native berries.
To quantify the overwintering phenomenon, McCormac reports that in December 1970, 36 robins were counted in Columbus. But in December 2010 the number had increased to 2,385. As more and more robins decide to overwinter, the greater the danger that the robins will run out of berries before winter is over.
In case you’re wondering why I used winter photos from last year instead of this year, we had unseasonably warm weather this past winter. Here’s a photo of some joggers that I photographed at the beginning of February.
So the robins fared pretty well this past winter.