Monday, September 24, 2018

Julian Emerson

Winter weather causes robins distress

  • dr-Robin7-040411-14401000-104773

    Robins have endured unusually late winter weather recently that has made their finding food difficult.

    Staff file photo by Dan Reiland

Amid the snowflakes blowing straight sideways outside my home’s windows April 14 were winged black-and-orange creatures being buffeted about who must have wondered why they had decided to migrate north this spring.

A flock of at least 50 robins had congregated in the trees and bushes in the yard of my Eau Claire home.

An hour earlier, while clearing snow from my driveway, I had noticed a handful of the birds in the street nearby, not their normal gathering place.

A short time later they clustered in two trees in my front yard, apparently seeking a respite from the inclement weather.

It wasn’t working. Gust after gust removed them from their perches, launching the birds sideways and prompting them to flutter their wings wildly as they struggled to return to the trees’ branches that still offered red berries ripened in the fall.

The unusually large bird group fluttered to a nearby tree, hoping for more permanent landing spots only to be met by more wind gusts and heavy snow.

After a time a dozen or so birds returned to stand in the street, apparently tired of trying in vain to cling to branches.

The Raptor Education Group in Antigo released a statement last week saying robins and warblers faced emergency conditions because a snowfall that totaled nearly a foot in Eau Claire was covering their normal food sources.

That would explain why the robins in my yard braved being blown about like feathers in a tornado for the chance to gobble up the red berries in one of our crab apple trees.

After about an hour or so the helter-skelter robin flock that had attracted our cats to our windows for the unusual viewing experience suddenly disappeared. I wondered what made them quickly decide to depart.

I figured maybe they’d just had enough of the unrelenting wind and snow. Or perhaps they found better shelter in a nearby larger tree.

Later I noticed the berries in that crab tree had been picked clean, likely the real reason those poor birds moved from my yard to elsewhere.

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