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C.O. influx of robins may be caused by wildfires’ habitat disruption, late winter

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.

Author Profile Photo

Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

Comments

61 Comments

      1. yeah…I thought I was imagining it. on another note: why does this website have another story pop up partially covering the text of every story that I read? Not ads, but other stories.

    1. The Robin invasion has the same cause as the Homeless invasion i.e. the new Tesla Store. You have to be an Orifornia to understand this reasoning or live in Sisters.

        1. – lighten up a little – life is complicated and keeps a lot of us busy beyond the point of paying attention sometimes – much better than individuals who have made some bizarre “political” commitment to deny any change over any period of time

  1. There was a similar invasion of Robins I’m going tp say about 10 years agp- it seems to have been another warmer winter. If it gets colder I expect they will be moving South.

    1. Agreed ! If you want to know what the winter will be like- watch the animals. Robins are letting you know that winter will arrive late. I’ve seen the same activity with the local rabbits- they should be hunkering down by now- but I see them darting about the early morning roads like it was summer.

      1. BGHW, FYI the new Alpenglow Park here in the Old Farm District has a lot of invisible rabbits. I walk the dog through there every day and I have never seen a single rabbit. But when it snowed recently we saw hundreds of rabbit tracks throughout the area. So the science says there are invisible rabbits at Alpenglow Park.

    2. I was going to point out the same thing. This is not a recent phenomenon. In fact I have video from years ago with far higher numbers of these Robins.

      So maybe it’s “news” to recent arrivals but it’s not to some of us.

      1. Well, if you have video that must be the conclusive proof. So nice that the Robins show up every year at your place for an accurate census and never frequent other areas in any other numbers.

        1. Spot observations are a customary method of tracking bird populations. Just one example is https://www.audubon.org/conservation/about-great-backyard-bird-count

          I’ve been supporting and observing the bird population at my property for 20 continuous years. My observation is that the winter Robin population is so far about average (though they normally don’t peak here for another month). Quail numbers have been very strong for awhile now, Dove are lower, and Finches have been the most numerous I’ve seen in a long time.

  2. I’ve been going out on the deck and steps every few days to scrub away mounds of bird droppings. It’s a nasty mess, trying to keep the area clean enough so the dogs don’t bring stuff in on their paws. I’ve lived here since ’88 and have never seen this happen before. We even stopped having a water bowl outside for the big dog but it hasn’t slowed them down. Bird spikes and reflective tape hasn’t worked either. Found one dead in a tree yesterday.

  3. I remember the first robin invasion about ten years ago. I had to keep a water jug and brush handy to clean the truck every use. We’ve had three or four more invasions since, but not as bad. Then this year, I had to trade the jug and brush for a hose and push broom. Nasty birds.

        1. First I’ve heard of that one. Yea, it’s pretty ridiculous to think that ALL birds are surveillance drones.

          That said, the first use of a life-like radio controlled bird in movies was nearly fifty years. So the concept of putting a camera in something that imitates natural wildlife isn’t outlandish. It’s hard to even argue that with today’s technology it wouldn’t even be a major feat of engineering.

  4. There have been influxes of Robins for decades not to mention drunken ones due to juniper berries that fly in to windows and sometimes die. It’s not climate change Robin suicide either, they are drunk on the berries. There have been tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and fires for ever as well. You would think from mainstream media lately none of these things ever happened before. Its sad there are actually people who believe these things are all new and because of man caused climate change but I guess thats the main item on their menu they will be force feeding in order to grab more power while turning us into Venezuela. We were supposed to melted and underwater by 2005 according to these people. Same old garbage they been going with for years and there are always some who by into it and pay no attention.

    1. Ten drone robins have been sent to watch you now that you have posted information contrary to what the Ministry of Truth approves. Please only post what is approved from here on.

    2. 100% right, if people would pay attention to what is really happening outside , they would know this happens every time there is a bumper crop of Juniper berry’s, seems Robins like Gin also.
      Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that derives its predominant flavor from juniper berries

    3. People say mainstream media like that is a real thing. There is so much “news and opinion” media now days that mainstream media simply means media that someone doesn’t agree with.
      Apparently the only real news media comes up from deep within rabbit holes for some people.

  5. Oh but isn’t all of that burned forest better for everybody and everything than actually managing the forest? Interesting that when logging was happening the birds and animals lived right around the actual work and never left, moved away during the work day and came back at night.

  6. I agree with sameday11 and CenturyO1. Along with all the mess the robins have been making, each evening at dusk there are hundreds flying from west to east across my yard. It’s fascinating to see.

  7. I have lived in Central Oregon for 52 years. Must admit, I have NEVER seen robins in this number. The other evening, the sky was full of them flying and it did not stop. Truly an amazing event indeed. Yes, it is newsworthy, as many wonder why there are so many..

  8. Well, this was a first. Driving out East Hwy 20 this morning, and I noticed all kinds, I mean tens of thousands of birds on the ground on both sides of the road. Turns out they were robins, drinking from the little channels created when they added rumble strips. Of course, as I drove by, they took off in swarms, and just past Dodds, I hit one at the top of my windshield. Wham! I have driven that route for decades and this is a first. Be warned. btw yes, they were robin red breasts.

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