Short Communications: First tracking of individual American Robins (Turdus migratorius) across seasons

  • April 18, 2019
  • by Jahn, A. E., Lerman, S. B., Phillips, L. M., Ryder, T. B., & Williams, E. J.

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is one of the most widespread, common bird species in North America; yet, very little is known about its migratory connectivity, migration timing, and migratory routes. Using archival GPS tags, we tracked the movements of 7 individual robins from 3 breeding populations in the United States. Four robins captured in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, overwintered in Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Montana, up to 4,500 km from the capture location. One robin captured in Amherst, Massachusetts, overwintered in South Carolina 1,210 km from the capture location, whereas 2 robins captured in Washington, D.C., spent the entire year within 6 km of their original capture location. Understanding the annual cycle and differences in migration strategies for a species that exhibits large regional variation in movement has the potential to provide novel insights into how conspecific populations respond to current and future heterogeneity in climate and habitat. The regionspecific patterns presented here suggest robins could serve as sentinels of environmental change at a continental scale.