Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Robins Coming Home to Roost

Starting at 3:45 pm, scattered groups of robins arrive and land in the oak trees along the Squamscott River. Sunset is at 4:14 pm, so presumably the robins are returning to their nighttime roost.

The robins gather into larger groups in the treetops.

In addition to a few hardy birders, this large number of robins attracts other interested parties....like this sharp-shinned hawk.

Sharp-shinned hawks prey on smaller birds, like robins, so every time the sharpie moves, all of the robins around him scatter. We see him chase birds several times, but we don't see him capture anything.

A red-tailed hawk is also surveying the scene.

Robins continue to arrive in groups of 10 - 50, and then they head from the oaks to the conifers. A knowledgeable local birder estimated that this roost contains several thousand birds each night.

What are robins doing in New Hampshire in the winter? They may be birds from farther north who will winter here. When the ground is frozen and snow-covered, robins mainly eat fruit - berries, crab apples, sumac. Often this fruit is bitter tasting in the summer, but by winter it loses its bitter taste.

If the food supply in an area gets depleted, the wintering robins will move on to an area with more food.

After parts of the flock gather in the treetops, they fly into the conifers on land that was formerly a Christmas tree farm where they will spend the night.

Time for this cold birder to head home and warm up!!

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