Birds' high numbers spark questions; plentiful juniper berries, climate change may play role
(Update: Adding video, comments from Director of Native Bird Care, Elise Wolf)
SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- You may have noticed a dramatic increase of robins flying around, causing you to question what’s going on.
The presence of a much larger number of robins than usual is becoming noticed on farmlands and in neighborhoods, as thousands of them are flocking to Central Oregon.
Known to be migratory birds, the number of robins generally increases during the winter, but the director of Native Bird Care in Sisters, Elise Wolf, said Monday the influx of robins isn' typical.
“We’ve had a lot of very large habitat-wide events in the Pacific Northwest over the last couple of years," Wolf said. "Mainly our wildfires. From British Columbia, Washington, Oregon -- you know, a large amount of land has been taken out.”
Wolf said another reason may be the delayed winter. The warmer temperatures going into this winter help sustain a food source for the birds.
“They’re also here for the agricultural lands that are still thawed, where they can find earthworms," Wolf pointed out.
Robins usually migrate south during the winter, in search of food and water, but with an accessible food source, there’s less motivation to leave.
Some Central Oregonians have called in to NewsChannel 21, reporting massive numbers of robins congregating on the roofs of homes, in some cases causing paint damage or a big mess in people's yards.
Wolf said people can expect to see the birds near water, farmlands and even in yards where they can access the earthworms.
You can also expect to find robins in an area where there’s an abundance of juniper berries.
As Central Oregon is known for their large population of juniper trees, that’s another factor for the birds to flock here.
With the confluence of past fires, warmer winters keeping the ground thawed, and numerous juniper trees, Wolf said all of these factors could contribute to the presence of so many robins.
She also mentioned that climate change likely plays a big role in what’s happening, but more research would need to be done to confirm the impacts.