Late-Season Snow Impacts Robin Feeding and Bird Migration in Northern Michigan

Birds are common sign that spring is here, but even though spring started weeks ago, they’re just now becoming more active.

That’s because of the cold and snow storms we saw late in the season and earlier this week.

It’s had a negative impact on the health of migratory birds and other wildlife.

“They don’t migrate through a big nasty snowstorm like that,” Ed Pike, said.

Ed Pike is the co-founder of the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch.

It was a slow start for counting birds, because spring came so late.

“They probably have trouble finding food and that’s one of the reasons they stop, but most of them can survive for a few days without much food,” Pike, added.

When a snowstorm hits during migration birds find sidewalks to stay warm.

That’s why many of our viewers have seen robins in groups on the ground.

“Typically things like robins are going to be foraging on the ground and if the ground is covered in snow than they are not finding the insects they are used to feeding on,” DNR Wildlife Biologist Jennifer Kleitch, explained.

Kleitch says while many robins have struggled to get food it’s a natural occurrence and even if they look hungry, you shouldn’t feed them.

“We necessarily don’t recommend that people feed wildlife in general, because it changes their behavior and they’ve probably come through the winter in decent shape anyways,” Kleitch, added.

Ed Pike’s careful eye has seen a promising rebound.

“They got held up in all the snowstorm that was going on, now they are moving through again and going along good,” Pike, explained.

The good news is if this warm weather continues and the snow continues to melt, things will start looking up for most of the wildlife in the area.