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Familiar robins still harbor mysteries


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A robin checks out the scene while looking for a meal at Discovery Park in Seattle one recent day. Long considered a harbinger of spring, robins are now present year-round across much of the country, due to warming temperatures and the proliferation of the berry bushes they feed on in winter. ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES.
Rising temperatures and the proliferation of berry bushes in yards across the country have shifted the migratory patterns of the bird everybody thinks they know — but which has actually been studied very little.
 

The species’ ability to thrive alongside humans means it doesn’t get a lot of attention from researchers, who tend to focus on animals in trouble. But those who have studied robins — including several scientists in the Pacific Northwest — marvel at a complex life cycle marked by some of bird-dom’s more dramatic, seasonal about-faces in diet and behavior.

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Familiar robins still a mystery to many

Yakima Herald-Republic (press release)

Some of the fundamental research on robin biology was done in the 1940s by University of Washington zoologist Donald Farner. He used banding data to estimate an average life span of about two years, though some birds live much longer. One banded ...

 

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