Robins are the largest North American thrushes. They are named after the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), however they aren’t in the same family.
Females have paler heads with a grayer back than the male.
Robins are not cavity nesters and prefer to nest in evergreens and eaves. They also like to nest near humans. In the below photo, that is our main entrance in the background, with our driveway/parking to the right.
Robins build their nests with long coarse grass, twigs, paper, feathers and is fastened with mud. The inside is softened with grass or other materials. An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year.
I left a pot on the side of my house and Ms. Robin took advantage of the situation.
Robins eat different types of food depending on the time of day: earthworms in the morning and fruit later in the day. Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is susceptible to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.
There were five bundles of joy in her nest.
Robins are among the first birds to sing at dawn. This possibly relates the saying, “The early bird gets the worm”.
The Robin uses sound, smell and possibly feels its prey moving in the ground with its feet, however vision is the major method of prey detection. In addition to hunting visually, it also has the ability to hunt by hearing. Experiments have discovered that Robins can find worms underground by simply using its listening skills. So all the cute running, stopping, hopping, and cocking of the head is how a Robin find its breakfast.
Robin roosts can be huge, sometimes including a 250,000 birds during winter. In summer, the females sleep in their nests and males gather at roosts. As young robins become independent, they join the males. Female adults join the roosts only after they have finished nesting. These guys left one by one, until there were none!
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) breed between March and August. Courtship practices can entail some crazy serenading like in the video below. After the female chooses the perfect, bright red suitor, she builds a nest, which is made of any soft material available. A pair can lay as many as three clutches of eggs in one summer, however they usually can only successfully raise two. The female lays 3 to 6 bluish or greenish-white eggs, with each egg weighing approximately 2.4 g that take about 14 or 15 days to hatch. The female incubates the brood and feeds the naked chicks for five days, then both parents take over feeding.
The nestlings leave the nest when they are 13 to 20 days old. The male continues to feed the fledglings for about two more weeks. (It’s actually quite comical to see the ragged-feathered dad with three youngsters in tow, all screaming FEED ME!!!) The female avoids this nonsense and begins to build a new nest so the cycle can continue…
Here in the Midwest, you may not be able to see the flowers blooming yet, but you can hear the local residence waking from their long, winter slumber.
Vernal pools have started to form from the melted snow and early spring rainfall that the ground can’t uptake because of the frost line or excessive saturation. These vernal pools (also called ephemeral, temporary, or seasonal ponds) are where many frogs, salamanders and newts call home. These pools provide protection from predators that live in permanent bodies of water including fish, invertebrate predators, and even other amphibians, such as American Bullfrogs and Northern Green Frogs.
Frogs & toads are pretty cool creatures that can survive winters by hibernating and by having antifreeze run through their veins! Terrestrial frogs normally hibernate on land. American toads (Bufo americanus) and other frogs that are good diggers burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Aquatic frogs such as the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and the leopard frog (Rana pipiens) typically hibernate underwater. Some frogs, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and the spring peeper (Hyla crucifer), are not skilled at digging and seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or just dig down as far as they can in the leaf litter.
Most frogs have amazing proteins in their blood, called nucleating proteins, that cause the water in their blood to freeze first. This ice sucks most of the water out of the frog’s cells dehydrating them. Then the frog’s liver starts making large amounts of glucose (a type of sugar) which fills into the cells and plumps them up. The concentrated sugar solution helps avoid additional water from being pulled out of the frog’s cells, which can cause death.
Right now, the majority of calls I hear are from the Western Chorus Frog. I think they sound like the noise made by running your finger over the teeth of a comb. Frogs and toads make many different calls that all sound alike, however mating calls are specific, which are what you will hear in the soundtracks. This is the easiest way to ID frogs, as seeing them at night might nearly be impossible.
Juncos are one of my favorite birds. They are small-sized sparrows that only winter in my area and summer in Northern Canada. Their darker tops vary from dark brown to smokey gray. They are ground feeders and don’t usually land on feeders. They will take seed off my windowsill, though. They like the black oil sunflower seeds I offer.
Most of the time they are seed eaters, unless they are feeding their young. Then they will switch to insects.