Robins, a glance back
- Luke and Yakkers,
Below I have pasted a post I made back on Feb 14, 2006. That year, the masses
of Robins were flowing from the Moxee/Terrace Heights area and were eventually
tracked to the Suntides roost. That was a particularly windy day and I speculate
the wind currents determine the Robins altitude. Jeff did find a roost that year in
the Terrace Heights area but Suntides, over the years, has been the most reliable
Again, the post below was sent in 2006!
At 4:40 this afternoon, I received a phone call from my sister...her voice
full of excitement. My niece had stepped outside and observed a flock of red
birds rushing overhead. She glimpsed a hawk and thought it had roused the
entire neighborhood's avian population.
The hawk disappeared quickly but the birds continued to pass overhead in
waves. My niece roused my sister out to share the phenomenon. Next came the
call to me. As the birds were still coursing overhead she implored me to drive
down in hopes of catching a portion of the spectacle.
My sister, Sherry, lives near 9th Ave and Nob Hill Blvd. I checked the
skies over 37th Ave and Nob Hill as I left home and noted nothing. Sherry stated
that the birds were coming out of the east and heading towards the
northwest. Keeping one eye on the road and the other on the sky (not an easy
task with trifocals), I transversed the two miles rather quickly.
I saw nothing until I was on 10th Avenue where scattered birds were rushing
overhead. I jumped from my truck, got my bins up and discovered the ninth
wave of bright Robins. I continued to Sherry's house and we continued to watch
the endless stream of Robins until 5:25. At first they were fairly low,
then much higher and finally lower, in very gusty winds, once again.
I was counting between 50 to 100 Robins every 10 seconds. Calculating 400
Robins per minute for 45 minutes, I came up with a low-ball estimation of
18,000 Robins total.
I related this tale to a group of grizzled Audubon old-timers (well, I'm
actually older in calendar years but much greener in birding expertise) and
thought I would have a hard time selling the 18 grand total. They didn't bat an
eye. It's an annual event at this time of year, it seems.
Why once, back in the day, when orchards were still on perimeter of 40th Ave
and Englewood, a roost of 60,000 Robins descended on the residential edge of
that area and settled in on ornamental conifers for days on end. To this
day, worms have not yet reestablished a presence in that 20 square block area.
With my puny 18 grand, I was shot down several times in succession building
up to the 60 grand tale. Like the rural carrier at the post office used to
say, "The first liar doesn't have a chance in here."
When I got home, I checked my copy of "The Birds of Yakima County." The
account for the American Robin described a survey of a Robin roost in the area
mentioned on Feb 10, 1988. That morning an estimated 40,000 Robins and 15,000
European Starlings were present at 7:00 am near 32nd Ave and Englewood.
What can I say? Obviously, 22,000 Robins flew by Sherry's house BEFORE my
niece stepped outside and we started the official tally.
So I put it to you out there in BirdYakville. Keep your eyes on the skies
between 4:30 and 5:30. Where are these Robins roosting? How many are flying
over your neighborhood? My friends from tonight's meeting assure me that the
waves will reoccur for days.
The wise worm will borough a little deeper until the orange plague passes!
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