Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Birds: Robins and Grosbeaks

While some animals hibernate all winter, and some migrate to warmer places, others are active and thriving. We have recently seen pine grosbeaks flying around the mountain ash trees at Hallam Lake! This large and rare member of the finch family is eating the fruit off the ash trees and serviceberries right along the short driveway into ACES. Thankfully Lindsay Fortier captured these birds with her camera before they flew away.

The winter habitat of the pine grosbeak is determined by the availability of food. With a limited amount of fruiting trees the grosbeaks are known to remain on a single tree for many days until all of the berries are gone. Their mild temperament and slow-moving, seemingly lazy, behavior caused the grosbeak to get the nickname, 'mope.'

Many people presume that our local Colorado robins migrate to a warmer climate for the cold winter. And they would be correct... for the most part. Animals that are active in our winter world are in the constant business of trying to find energy; we all need food to generate heat to keep ourselves alive. While many robins do migrate away from Aspen, some also take the energy budget challenge and stay. The amount of non-migratory robins depends on the amount of available food in a particular year. This year seems to have a plentiful amount of berries. Thus, we are seeing many robins that have decided to stay the cold winter.

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