Thursday, February 17, 2011

Turdus migratorius

It's mid-February, and in Ann Arbor we're having quite the warm snap. For the past week, it's been springlike, with daytime temperatures hovering in the mid-forties and even making their way past fifty degrees. All the snow that we got at the start of the month is now melting, making little rivers and big puddles in the roads. With the warmer temperatures, some animals have been more active -- most noticeably, the birds.

Though robins have traditionally been a sign of spring, they live year-round in Ann Arbor. In the winter, they're quite gregarious, moving in flocks and, more often than not, traveling place-to-place with starlings. In recent days, I've been seeing plenty of robins hanging out along the roadsides, especially in areas where the snow has melted. When they cross the road -- and it's quite often -- robins tend to fly quite low, making them easy targets for passing cars.

The robin I found today along Ann Arbor-Saline Road was likely a victim of such an accident. As I stooped to pick up the body, I saw several robins nearby, very much alive, pecking at the earth.

February Robin I

Note the blood on the beak: a telltale sign of a window or car collision. I've never before seen a robin so closely, and like the junco of a few months ago, I marveled at just how beautiful this bird's feathers were.

February Robin II

The robin's body feathers were this wonderfully warm, smoky shade of gray, contrasting nicely with the orangey-red breast feathers. The same red as that of the breast actually extends into the inside of the wing, making for an interesting meeting of hues.

February Robin III