A few days ago I heard someone say, with quite a bit of glee, “Ahhh…soon we’ll be seeing signs of spring.”
I think this month’s Bird of the Month is seen as a “sign of spring” like no other. It’s a bird that hardly needs any introduction because it is recognized by virtually everyone. With the commonality of the bird and having written BOTMs for almost 3 years, I can hardly believe I haven’t mentioned this bird before now.
This month’s featured bird is the American Robin, a bird that is one of America’s most recognized “signs of spring.”
Signs of spring.” These words actually remind me of an advantage people have who spend much of their time outdoors (especially us birders) over folks who don’t. We tend to see “signs of spring” quite a while before spring actually arrives according to the Greco-Roman calendar. We notice “signs of spring” even before the arrival of American Robins. (American Robins “over-winter” here in pretty good numbers. There are actually a number of birds sitting on nests as early as February, and even January in some cases. So other birds are surely better harbingers of spring…but…I digress.)
The American Robin is in the family of birds known as “Thrushes”. I tend to forget this until I see a juvenile robin. Juveniles have heavily spotted breasts as is typical of most others in the thrush family. Only when they mature do they acquire the very familiar “Robin Red Breast”.
The American Robin is an important bird to me. Growing up on a farm and watching birds with my grandfather, I consider myself to have been a birdwatcher from my childhood. Even so, it was actually an American Robin I saw about 15 years ago that re-sparked my interest in birds. I saw the bird running and hopping in the lawn of the apartments where I lived at the time. When I saw it, I had no idea what kind of bird it was. So, I went out and bought my very first bird identification field guide since my high school days. To my amazement, it was an American Robin. A juvenile. Young robins can indeed be a bit confusing when being introduced, or reintroduced, to birding.
The spring migration of birds has started. Up until now, the migration door has only been slightly ajar. Over the next month or two, it will be as if that door swings open wide and a flood of different types of birds come rushing through. Birds which spent winter months in the Gulf States, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central American, and even South America will come bursting on the scene.
Ahhh…Signs of spring!!!