Tag Archives: round robin red breast

Short Film: Snowy Day Robin and Starling Flock

If you are fortunate enough to have a flock of robins visiting your neighborhood, take a closer look and you may notice other species of birds mixed with the flock, most notably European Starlings. The starling’s winter plumage is shiny black, bespeckled with white dots and some iridescence to their feathers. During breeding season they gain an even greater degree of iridescence.

Native to Europe, the starling was introduced to the United States in the 1890s. They often join flocks with American Robins. Starlings eat many of the same fruits and berries (crabapples, sumac, holly, and winterberries) as do robins and they are very competitive. Starlings also compete with birds such as Eastern Bluebirds for nesting sites. In a recent mixed flock of robins and starlings I also noticed one gorgeous waxwing!

Several years back we posted this short video. I wish I still had the footage because I am a much better editor today however, at approximately 30 seconds, the starlings make their entrance.

Anne Malvaux inspired today’s post. This morning she very sweetly sent along photos of the flock of robins and starlings that were in her neighborhood on Rocky Neck. She writes,

“Hi Kim, thinking about you because I have at least 50 robin red breasts in my tree in front of my window. I hope all is well. – Anne Malvaux”

Thank you Anne!!!

photo 2

Original post from 2012: Round Robin Redbreast Snowy Day


American Robin winter crabapple turdus migratorius, americanus ©kim Smith 2015American Robin and Crabapples

Right on schedule, the robins have returned to our East Gloucester neighborhood! They were seen flocking to the holly berries, crabapples and sumac. This morning it was bleak and drizzly; I hope to see them back in our neighborhood on a sunnier day!

Dear Readers, If you spot robins in your garden or neighborhood, please comment in the comment section and let us know when and where. If you get a good capture of a robin, or any songbird for that matter, please send to kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com and I will be happy to share the photos here on GMG. Thank you so much!

For more information about robins see previous posts here:

American Robin Nestlings 

The American Robin and Bird Food

I Love Sumac

Birds of Cape Ann: The American Robin and Bird Food!

American Robin American holly ©Kim Smirh 2014

Right on schedule! Beautiful and welcome migrant flocks of American Robins arrive annually in Gloucester during the month of February, dining on local fruits, berries and fish fry.

During the winter months Cape Ann often becomes home to large flocks of robins, and we have had the joy of hosting numerous numbers in our garden. I can’t help but notice their arrival. Their shadows descend, crisscrossing the window light, followed by a wild rumpus in the ‘Dragon Lady’ hollies. This pair of hollies is planted on opposing sides of the garden path, alongside my home office. I have learned to stealthily sneak up to a window, as any sudden activity inside startles birds that are investigating our garden, and they quickly disperse. Dining not only on berries of the ‘Dragon Ladies’, but also the ‘Blue Princess’ Meserve holly and winterberry bushes, I find dozens of noisy, hungry robins.

These winter nomads flock to trees and shrubs that hold their fruit through January and February, feasting on red cedar, American holly, Meserve hollies, chokecherries, crabapples, and juniper. Robins traveling along the shores of Cape Ann also comb the shoreline for mollusks, and go belly-deep for fish fry. Depleting their food supply, they move onto the next location. Gardens rife with fruiting shrubs and trees make an ideal destination for our migrating friends.

Eastern Red Cedar American Robin ©Kim Smith 2014American Robin Eating Eastern Red Cedar Fruits

Habitat Gardening Tip:

The garden designed to attract nesting pairs of summer resident robins, as well as flocks of winter travelers, would be comprised of trees and shrubs for nest building, plants that bear fruit and berries that are edible during the summer and fall, and plants that bear fruits that persist through the winter months. Suburban gardens and agricultural areas provide the ideal habitat, with open fields and lawns for foraging insects as well as trees and hedgerows in which to build their nests.

The following plants, suggested with robins in mind, will also attract legions of songbirds and Lepidoptera. The list is comprised primarily of indigenous species with a few non-native, but not invasive, plants included.

Trees for nesting ~ American Holly (Ilex opaca), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).

Summer and autumn fruit bearing trees, shrubs and vines for robins ~ Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Blackberry (Rubus spp.), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Gray Dogwood (C. racemosa), Red-osier Dogwood (C. sericea), Silky Dogwood (C. amomum), Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Apple (Malus pumila), Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana), Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Wild Grape (Vitis spp.).

Trees and shrubs with fruits persisting through winter ~ Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana), Crabapple (Malus spp.)Sargent’s Crabapple (Malus sargentii), American Holly (Ilex opaca), Meserve Hollies (Ilex meserveae), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Common Juniper (Juniperus communis), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).

Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana  copy

Bird Food: Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus viginiana)

To read more see previous posts:

Round Robin Redbreast

Round Robin Redbreast Snowy Day Video

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Winterberry Ilex verticillata © Kim Smith 2014Bird Food: Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

American Robin in Dogwood tree ©Kim Smith 2014Robin at dawn this morning after the storm