Aren’t birds supposed to migrate south in the winter? So, why are you still occasionally spotting robins when the temperatures are freezing and there is snow on the ground?
Since worms burrow deeply underground during the winter, you may be left scratching your head and wondering how the robins are surviving.
Well, robins are a very beautiful and unique bird species that have adapted to winter survival.
While they are likely to ignore that bird feeder that you set out, they do have a source of food that suffices them throughout the winter months.
What Robins Eat in Winter
Robins survive on berries leftover on shrubs to make it through the winter. Once they locate a vine or tree that still bears fruit, they’ll stay there until they have consumed the remaining fruit. Robins also need a water source to survive the colder months and will eat the snow if they can’t find water.
Robins Are Nomadic During the Winter Months
While it is a well-known fact that birds fly south during the winter, this isn’t necessarily true with regards to robins.
While robins are nomadic during cold temperatures, they move around regularly in search of food instead of making one long trek to seek out warmth.
Robins are very territorial throughout the warmer months as they breed at this time and remain close to the nest, but they won’t remain in a single location in the wintertime.
Instead, they will look for bushes and trees that are rich in fruit, and then continue to move on after the fruit has been consumed.
Robins are able to withstand freezing temperatures, provided they have enough food to fuel their small bodies and produce warmth, which is why they remain on a continuous hunt for more berries during the winter, rather than fly south as most bird species do.
Robins Eat Fruits and Berries During the Winter
Robins prefer to eat worms, as many bird species do, but when the temperatures drop, the worms will burrow deeply underneath the ground, rendering the robins incapable of reaching them.
Alternatively, the robins will gladly eat berries and fruits when there are no worms available.
Now, robins are picky eaters, and they like some fruits more than others.
At the beginning of the winter, the robins will seek out their favorite fruits and consume those first, but towards the end of winter, they are forced to settle for whatever remaining fruit that they can find – even if they really don’t like it.
Robins are Unable to Chew and Digest Birdseed
Many people who notice winter robins tend to set out birdseed in an attempt to offer up a food source and attract these beautiful birds to their property. Even though this is well-intentioned, robins will bypass a bird feeder, regardless of how hungry they are.
Robin’s beaks aren’t strong enough to crack open nuts or birdseed, and even if they manage to do so, they are still incapable of digesting the small nuts.
Additionally, robins learn at a young age that food comes from trees, so they are unlikely to even check out the bird feeder while they are on their mission to obtain food.
Robins Need a Water Source During the Winter
In addition to food, robins need a reliable source of water to survive the winter months.
Although berries and fruits may manage to withstand the cooler temperatures long enough for the robins to obtain the fuel and calories that they need, many water sources will freeze once the temperature drops below a certain point, which forces the robins to eat the snow.
If you notice winter robins in your neighborhood, you can help them out by placing a dish full of berries outside for them and a shallow bowl filled with water.
Since the robins will gravitate towards trees and shrubs to locate food, it is advisable to place the berries and water close to a bush, which will increase the likelihood of the robins successfully finding the food and water.
Frequently Asked Questions about What Robins Eat in Winter
Do some robins stay for the winter?
While there are robins that will migrate south to Florida or Mexico every winter before returning to Canada or the Northern US in the spring, there are indeed some robins that will choose to ride out the winter in a colder climate. These robins will spend the winter nomadically moving from place to place in search of berries that will provide them with the fuel that they need to stay warm and survive the freezing temperatures.
How Can You Take Care of Robins in Winter?
First, you shouldn’t go out and invest in a bag of birdseed as the robins will be unable to eat it. However, they do enjoy dried cranberries, apple slices, softened raisins, grapes, and wax worms. Since the winter robins will also be on the hunt for water, you should also put out a shallow bowl of water for them.
While it may seem strange to spot robins in the winter, these intelligent and beautiful birds have a winter survival strategy in place.
Although they will continuously relocate throughout the winter in an effort to locate berries, you can give them a hand by putting out bowls of fruit and water for them.
Just keep in mind that they will pass on the birdseed, but will surely be grateful for cranberries and grapes.