In wintry weather, power outages, water problems and burst pipes, Austin enjoys at least one ray of sunshine: in the form of a massive influx of American robins.
Robins regularly migrate south each winter, but by 2021 they have become a spectacular presence, with flocks of robins tumbling in everywhere from the courtyards of inner-city lofts to the postage-stamp courtyards in the suburbs.
Bird diversity at the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center in Cedar Hill, Texas has noted that robins have been seen in large numbers in the area recently.
The educator Katie Christman says it’s not our imagination. “Robins came south in large numbers this year,” she says.
She says it is the result of a phenomenon called a disorder, which is a sudden rapid growth in an organism’s population.
“American robins and other birds sometimes experience a resource shift,” Christman says. “The avian population may have a good year with lots of resources available for this bird and it can produce many more young. During the next cycle in a year or two there might not be that much food because they produced a lot Babies. “
And with the snow, their presence increased, not only because they were more visible, but also because they were more active.
“In … cold weather, they have to stay active because they are trying to stay warm,” she says.
Robins are known to eat worms, but in winter they switch their diet to fruit and berries, and homeowners see this in action when their holly, Indian hawthorn, juniper, and other berry-laden ornamental plants are wiped out. sometimes in a single afternoon.
Christman has tips if you want to offer them snacks.
“We recommend high-protein snacks like dry mealworms, which you can get anywhere high-quality birdseed,” she says. “You can also push out peas, oats – but nothing with salt or sugar.”
Lots of people bring out bread, but they don’t recommend it.
Austin isn’t the only place robins show up: there have been similar sightings in Dallas-Fort Worth, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, where they are seen in flocks of 100 or more.