One of the ladies at church Sunday asked me if I had seen my first Robin yet. Like most, since childhood, my elders told me that seeing my first Robin was a promising sign of spring’s arrival. I dislike being a harbinger of bad news but spotting a robin does not necessarily signal the start of spring. Truth is, you can spot American robins just about all year long. Even if your robins flew south for the winter, you might see one that flew in from someplace farther north. To get a thumbs-up on spring, you have to lay eyes on your robins - on the ones actually returning to your area for some spring and summer worming.
You can't exactly check their boarding passes. But you can listen. When your local robins return, the males call dibs on worms, marking their territories with a distinctive song: cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-a-lee. Robins make all kinds of chirps and calls, but they save this singing for after they've returned to claim a springtime spot. They tend to arrive after the temperature moves consistently above 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). That's when worms head back to the surface after tunneling all winter below the frost.
Click here to listen to a variety of Robin songs.