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This year in October, I saw a lot of robins, male and female, finches and chickadees, and geese flying south.

Surprisingly I didn't see many juveniles from previous broods. My guess is that juveniles are harder to see.

And the robins were flying above me, looking for worms below me, and most ended up in tall shrubs. The finches stayed in place longer than the robins.

So why this big congregation of birds when it is still going to be relatively warm for most of the fall(which it ended up being)?

I live in ohio where it usually gets down to -4 in January and 90+ during the summer.

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So, we typically think about migrating birds as living somewhere (North) and then traveling South for the winter. This way of thinking is actually not accurate according to a number of ornithologists, including many I used to work with/for. Thy suggest that the birds live in the South and migrate North to breed and to avoid overcrowding of Southern locales. (Though see this article that found support for the more often assumed N-to-S direction of migration). If 'South' is in fact their 'home,' then perhaps they will venture there regardless of weather patterns. However, perhaps neither of these thoughts applies to short-range migrators like robins.

Also, many birds migrate during the dark hours of the night, so I wonder if the birds you saw were even migrating, per se, or just moving about regionally.

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It would help knowing your location, though that would still leave a lot of guesswork. For example, did the birds KNOW it was going to be a warm winter? If a bird sensed a warm winter and chose to stay put, rather than migrate, only to be caught by a sudden freeze, the results could obviously be disastrous.

A severe drought combined with dire weather predictions led us to expect a dry winter here in Western Washington, yet we were hammered by several days of hard rain described by the media as a "fire hose."

Incidentally, I doubt that robins scan the ground for worms while in flight. They might search for suitable hunting grounds, but they search for prey on the ground.

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  • $\begingroup$ The robins were searching for prey on the ground, just at a lower ground level than I was at(thus the looking for worms below me. $\endgroup$ – Caters Dec 13 '15 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ Please could you add some supporting scientific material that reinforces your answer and allows further reading. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Mar 8 '16 at 7:30

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