Though the robin is considered the “harbinger of spring”, I see them during almost all of my winter walks and had hundreds this morning at High Park.
This excerpt from Birds of Ontario (1985) by my grandfather, Dr. J. Murray Speirs, demonstrates how things stood almost 40 years ago.
On the 1968-1977 Christmas counts they were fairly common near Toronto, Pelee and Thunder Bay, uncommon elsewhere north to Ottawa, Meaford and Marathon, and rare to absent elsewhere in Ontario. The winter population north of Lake Superior depends on the crop of mountain ash fruits. Stirrit (1973) had several estimates of 100 at Pelee during the winter months. W. Lunn noted single birds in Prince Edward County on Dec. 11, 1934 and Dec. 18, 1938. S. lloyd noted several winter records for Ottawa. L. Beamer reported his first bird of the year at Meaford 8 times in January and 5 times in February. Mills (1981) cited several winter records for the cottage country, one as late as Feb. 21, 1974. Dennison listed them on 9 of 25 Christmas counts at Sault Ste. Marie.
This morning’s robin photos:
The Oven Bird – Robert Frost
There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.