© 2023 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
IPM Pinwheel Banner for Header
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
WKSU is looking for the answers to the questions you have about Ohio in a project we call "OH Really?" It's an initiative that makes you part of the news gathering process.

Some robins love winter in Ohio. OH Really?

photo of an American Robin
Alvan Buckley
Birds Canada
A listener asks 'OH Really?' why he's seeing robins in Ohio -- in winter.

Have you noticed more robins than usual for this time of year? If so, you’re not alone. A listener wrote into our “OH Really” team to ask why he’s seeing so many more robins when -- in theory -- they should be migrating in warmer climates.

Listener Chad Smith has been surprised at the number of robins he’s seeing around Erie County this winter. However, there’s no specific reason for that according to Ryan Trimbath, a biologist with Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He points out that not all robins are typical migratory songbirds.

"They are assessing the weather trends that year, and they're assessing their food availability, and the risk of staying versus the risk of going. So, with a bird like a robin -- a partial migrant -- they can decide, 'hey, you know it looks like it's going to be a cold winter. There's not very many fruits on the trees this year. I think I need to make the trip and go somewhere warmer if I'm going to increase my chance of survivorship.'

“We have plenty of resident robins during the winter time. If you’re seeing more of them now, that could potentially mean [that] more birds from up north made the choice to migrate further south. Also, if you're seeing more birds, it's likely because you have some resources that they're looking for.”

Trimbath says those resources include chokecherry or crabapple trees with small, brightly colored berries -- which robins crave.

rose hips.jpg
Chad Smith
Chad Smith from Erie County says the robins seem to enjoy congregating around rose hips in his yard -- although he also has black cherry trees, which are bare at this time of year.

A study by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology found that robins have been seen in almost every state in January. The lab conducts the annual Great Backyard Bird Count in conjunction with Birds Canada and the Audubon Society.

This year, a free informational webinar is being held on February 16, ahead of the actual count from February 18-21.

For birdwatchers in Northeast Ohio, Trimbath says there are dozens of excellent, easily accessible spots in the CVNP, such as at the Station Road Bridge trailhead, and the Beaver Marsh on Riverview Road.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.