My aunt, living at my farm “Meadowbrook” up in Adams County, informed me that huge flocks of robins were in the yard by the second week of January. I hadn’t seen any here in Westminnie until closer to the end of January; they were swooping back and forth over the alley while I was walking my dogs. Then, the flocks disappeared but finally came back to my neighborhood this past weekend.
Of course, being a bird watcher, I wondered what I had in my yard that was attracting them. We tend to plant our yards with food producing shrubs that serve the bird populations at different times of year. What we would have available now are winter foods, often described as needing to freeze and thaw multiple times before any self respecting bird will touch the fruits. And sometimes, even then, the berries seem to go untouched. Case in point–flocks of robins were ignoring both the neighbor’s loaded winterberry and my Nellie R. Stevens holly–whereas in years past robins denuded the latter of fruit. They *could* kindly think about eating the Viburnum trilobum–so heavy with berries that the branches droop. But no takers so far.
This time, the big draw was Juniperus virginiana aka “Virginia Cedar”. The robins were all over in that one tree, eating the blue cone-berries. Native plant–a volunteer by my driveway. Go figure.