For the Birds Radio Program: Migration Update

Original Air Date: April 22, 1988

New arrivals, and an intriguing explanation of where the Grand Rapids robins were all winter.

Duration: 4′07″


Migration Report

(Recording of an American Robin)

Early migration is in full swing in the Northland now. Robins are singing everywhere, including Grand Rapids, where they finally made an appearance right after our “Last Robin of Winter” contest ended.

I did hear from one KAXE listener about just where the Goodland, Minnesota robins were all winter–she wrote, “When we were in Ft. Myers, Florida, in February, we saw a flock of about 20 robins, and I thought they looked very familiar. I’m pretty sure they were the Goodland, Minnesota group. Yeah–I’m pretty sure it was the same birds we see up here. They had that look, you know? Like the group of humans that flocks up at the Goodland post office to wait for the mail to be sorted. Except they don’t perch in a tree the way these robins did– they wait right inside the post office. (Maybe we should plant a little tree out front.)”

At the time this observant listener wrote, the robins had not yet returned to Goodland. She added, “They’re probably still working on their tans, playing golf, cruising in their little sailboats, or whatever else robins do on their winter vacations. We’ll see them when they get here, I guess.”

I received this letter a week ago Thursday, so I trust that by now robins are singing even in Goodland. This writer is the only KAXE listener so far to send me an explanation about where the robins were all winter, and so she will receive a tape of 22 “For the Birds” programs. It’ll be pretty hard to top her explanation, but it’s not too late for another KAXE listener to enter the “Lame Excuses about Where the Grand Rapids Robins Were All Winter” contest, so I’m hoping to hear from you.

Meanwhile, quite a few sparrows have returned. Juncos are trilling, confusing a lot of people with Chipping Sparrows. Although one or two chippy’s have been reported, most of them don’t come back until May. The Junco trill is short and sweet.


The Chippy’s trill is usually longer and drier.

(Recording of a Chipping Sparrow)

Fox Sparrows are singing their pretty song.

(Recording of a Fox Sparrow)

And the favorite song of many Northlanders, the White- throated Sparrow’s, is ringing throughout the North woods again.

(Recording of a White-throated Sparrow)

At least one pair of Merlins is nesting in the Lakeside neighborhood of Duluth again. These pretty little falcons are very noisy near their nest.

(Recording of a Merlin)

If you learn of any Merlin nests in Duluth, please let me know–Duluth is the only city in the United States with a nesting colony right in the city limits, and we’re trying to keep tabs on these special birds.

Most of the ducks have returned, and I’ve been getting more reports than usual about Bald Eagles, which is encouraging. I’ve also had two different reports of albino Pine Siskins, one from a KAXE listener, and one from outside of Duluth.

If you’re interested in keeping up with spring migration by going out with Minnesota’s top bird expert, consider taking Kim Eckert’s excellent bird identification class. He has a flexible schedule, and even if you live outside of Duluth, you can at least make arrangements to go along on one or two of his trips. For more information, call Kim at area 218-525-6930.

(Recording of a Robin)

This is Laura Erickson, and this program has been “For the Birds.”