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Posts Tagged ‘Turdus migratorius’

Where I live in Northern Virginia, American Robins (Turdus migratorius) stay with us throughout most of the year, but I am always happy to see them because they evoke memories of my childhood, when robins were viewed as a harbinger of spring. This robin was part of a small flock that I spotted last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Robins also bring a smile to my face, because they invariably bring to mind the song “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)” that includes these catchy lyrics (as found on lyrics.com):

“When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob Bobbin’ Along
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song
Wake up, wake up you sleepy head
Get up, get out of your bed
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red
Live, love, laugh and be happy
What if I were blue,
Now I’m walking through
Fields of flowers
Rain may glisten but still I listen for hours and hours
I’m just a kid again doing what I did again, singing a song
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along.”
If you are unfamiliar with this song, check out this link to Youtube to hear a wonderful version by Bing Crosby.

Readers from the United States may have noted that I initially called this bird an American Robin, rather than simply a Robin. Thanks to my occasional trips to Europe, I have been introduced to the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), an equally beautiful but completely different bird. Here’s a link to a posting about a European Robin that I spotted in Paris last November.

 

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Recently I have been seeing flocks of American Robins (Turdus migratorius) throughout Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Growing up, I used to think of the appearance of robins primarily as a harbinger of spring. Where I live now, however, I see robins during most of the year.

Earlier this week during a period of the morning when the light was exceptionally beautiful I was searching desperately for a subject to photograph when I spotted this handsome robin in a bare tree. The branches of the tree were fascinating in their shapes and they became an important compositional element in the three images that I included in this posting.

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I grew up in the suburbs, so even domesticated farmyard animals seem exotic to me, like this bantam rooster and Red Angus cow with her calf that I encountered last weekend in Montpelier, Virginia while I was out of town for a wedding.

I am also including an image of an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) that I also captured on the farm—I like the way that the color of the rusted barbs matches that of the robin’s breast and how their shape mirrors that of the robin’s clawed feet.

 bantam rooster
Red Angus cow
American Robin
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I captured this shot of an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) as it assumed a yoga-style pose and saluted the early morning sun.

In many ways, this is one of my favorite styles of wildlife photography. I find an ordinary subject, in this case the robin, and try to capture it in a way that highlights its beauty.

Of course, “ordinary” is a relative term and I have become more and more conscious of the fact that subjects that are common in one area may well be considered rare and exotic in another location. That heightened consciousness also caused me to identify this as an “American Robin,” because I have learned that Europeans have an equally beautiful, but different, bird that is also called a “robin.”

Beauty comes in many forms and one of my goals as a photographer is to capture a sense of that beauty and to share it with others. Ideally, it will cause some of those viewers to pause and wonder how it is that they did not notice that beauty themselves.Perhaps the next time they are out in nature, they will linger a little longer and look a bit closer and find that beauty revealed to them as well.

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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I don’t tend to think of American Robins (Turdus migratorius) as acrobatic birds—most of the time I see them poking about on the ground, the traditional early bird searching for the worm. I photographed this acrobatic robin in February at Huntley Meadows Park, a marshland park not far from where I live. The robin was precariously perched on a very thin branch and moved slowly and carefully to maintain its balance and gently grab the little red berries you can see in the photo.

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There were lots of American Robins (Turdus migratorius) on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, including one that decided to take a bath in a puddle in the middle of the path. A couple of years ago  I probably would not have bothered to identify the bird as an “American Robin,” but now I know that there is a European Robin, which is a completely different bird.

The first shot of these three is the sharpest and I like the way that you can see the succession of puddles and the robin’s reflection. I am equally drawn, however, to the action shots with the water splashing into the air. The light was pretty limited at the time and only afterwards did I realize that my shutter speed had dropped to 1/125 of a second.  That is why you can see some motion blur in the second shot, an effect that I think helps to give a dynamic feel to the image. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to include the third shot, but decided that I liked the out of focus robin in the background, whose peaceful pose is in sharp contrast with that of the frenetic flailing of the bathing robin.

bathing robin

bathing robin

bathing robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like a tightrope walker, this American Robin (Turdus migratorius) inched its way along a narrow vine at Huntley Meadows Park, its eyes focused on the prize that awaited it at the other end. Periodically the robin used its wings for balance and moved forward until it reached a steady position almost within reach of the berries.

With a quick thrust forward of its head, the robin was able to snatch one of the low-hanging fruits. When I left it, the robin seemed to be enjoying its prize with a smile on its face.

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do robins have tongues? I never thought much about this question until I looked at the shots I took this past weekend of American Robins (Turdus migratorius) at Huntley Meadows Park in Northern Virginia.

As a child, I was told that robins were a harbinger of spring and that may have been the case in Massachusetts. Clearly that is not the case where I live now, for an entire flock of robins was present in the park in what I would still consider the middle of winter.

Some of the robins were pecking about on the ground, but many of them were drawn to some kind of vegetation that had bluish-colored berries. I usually think of robins eating worms, so it was fascinating to watch them pick and swallow berries, acting much like Cedar Waxwings.

When reviewing my photos, I saw what appeared to be a tongue in some of my images, so I did a little research. It turns out that robins do have tongues that they use to help them swallow fruit. In fact, different birds use their tongues for a wide variety of purposes, as Laura Erickson illustrates wonderfully in a  blog posting entitled “More about Bird Tongues than a Normal Person Would Want to Know.”

In the first image below, the robin has just grabbed the berry and is starting to pull it in. In the second image, the tongue is more clearly visible and the process has moved along a bit. I hoped to get a shot of the final step in swallowing the berry, but the robin turned its head to the side at that moment.

American Robin

American Robin

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I don’t paint, but if I did, I’ve love to be able to paint graphic images like this American Robin (Turdus migratorious) that I photographed in the snow earlier this month at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Robin in the snow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The snow is melting quickly and soon will be nothing but a memory. Fortunately I was able to capture some fun shots when the snow covered my marshland park, like this image of an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) enjoying an undoubtedly frozen berry—I think it is a rose hip from a Swamp Rose.

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A flock of American Robins (Turdus migratorius) was feverishly foraging in the bushes, but one solitary robin felt a need to satisfy its thirst. Perching on a fallen branch mostly submerged in the frozen pond, the robin gently leaned forward and dipped its bill in a small pool of open water. It must be tough for birds in the wild to get water to drink during the cold days of winter.

As I was processing the photo, I couldn’t help but notice that it was mostly monochromatic, except for the orange in the breast and bill, so I played around a little with converting it to black and white. It still doesn’t pop as much as I would like, but I thought it would be fun to include it for comparison with the original.

American RobinAmerican Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Angry bird? I don’t know for sure if this American Robin (Turdus migratorius) was angry, but it sure did not look happy when I started walking toward it on the boardwalk this morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Earlier this week American Robins (Turdus migratorius) were very active at my local marshland park, mostly fluttering about high in the trees, apparently foraging for food.

I have a mental picture of robins poking about in the ground and pulling out juicy worms. Clearly they were not looking for worms in the trees, but seemed instead to be focusing their attention on some little red berries. The robins, which are present in our area throughout the year, manage to survive by switching their diets to one of primarily fruit during the winter.

Sue of the Backyard Biology blog helped to explain this change in the a robin’s diet in a posting last year that she titled “The Robin in Winter…or why Robins don’t migrate.” Be sure to check out her blog for wonderful images and fascinating discussions of the science behind some of nature’s mysteries and conundra.

American Robin American RobinAmerican Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I was growing up in New England, the appearance of robins was viewed as a harbinger of spring. Although I rarely see them during the winter, American Robins (Turdus migratorius) are with us throughout the entire year here in Northern Virginia. Yesterday was sunny, but cold and windy, and on a walk around a local lake I spotted a small flock of robins, looking a little bedraggled in the winter weather.

It’s a little early, but I’m ready for spring to arrive, though we have a lot more winter to come.

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At first I thought that the black and orange birds rooting about in the fallen leaves were American Robins (Turdus migratorius), but a closer look through the undergrowth revealed that there was white on their breasts and that their eyes were red.

It turns out that they are Eastern Towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), a strikingly marked oversized sparrow. It was quite a challenge to get somewhat unobstructed shots of these birds. They seemed to be in constant motion, hopping about and rummaging through the leaves—I had to chase them around for quite some time to get these modest shots.

towhee2_blogtowhee1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Earlier this week, I saw my first American Robins (Turdus migratorius) of the year, a traditional harbinger of spring. I remember my parents telling me when I was young that robins are a sign of the imminent arrival of spring and that association remains strong in my mind to this day.  That association also gives me the change to use the word “harbinger” at least once a year.

The snow from our recent big snowstorm is almost gone and I will soon be seeing more signs of spring, like crocuses and daffodils and increasing numbers of birds, signs of new life and new energy and new color after a cold, gray winter.

robin1

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I remember my parents telling me when I was young that robins are a sign of the imminent arrival of spring and that association remains strong in my mind to this day.

I am now seeing increasingly large numbers of robins and other birds. Flowers are starting to pop up all over, crocuses, daffodils, and others. The air is alive with a sense of joyous expectation, of new growth.

Whenever I see a robin, I instinctively pause and look around for more signs of spring. Life gets so busy that it is useful for me to have reminders that push me outside of the cares of my daily life and cause me to take a closer look at the beauty of nature.

robin_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A flock of robins was really active in my neighborhood this morning, busily pecking the ground as the freezing rain gradually turned into snow. This American Robin (Turdus migratorius) didn’t even have time to clean up before I took his portrait.

robin_blog

Click on the photo to see a higher-resolution view

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Spring is not here yet, but we had a foretaste of its pleasures yesterday, when the skies were sunny and the temperature rose to 60 degrees (15.5 degrees C). As I was walking along the Potomac River, I encountered a group of American Robins (Turdus migratorius), a traditional harbinger of spring, and got these shots.

Today is about twenty degrees colder and there’s a possibility of snow showers later in the day. Spring has not yet arrived, but we are moving inexorably toward the moment when winter finally gives way to spring.

Robin1_blogRobin2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I usually think of the robin as a harbinger of spring, but the robin loses that symbolic significance during the waning days of October, or does it? Seeing the first American robin (Turdus migratorius) in the spring is an indication that the long, cold months of winter are finally ending, a sign of hope in the promise of things to come. Irrespective of the season, I need that hope, that joyous expectation in my life and the sight of a robin serves as a visual reminder that spring will come again.

Autumn robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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