Do Robins Migrate and Fly South in Winter?

Do robins migrate south and come back in spring? Find out where robins go in winter and why you're not seeing them on your lawn.

Do Robins Migrate?

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about spring, most of them along the line of will it ever get here? Many people have noted that one of their biggest signs that spring really is coming is that the robins have returned. Do American robins migrate? The short answer is no. They just change their behavior in the winter so we don’t notice them as much.

Check out 15 cheerful robin bird pictures to welcome spring.

Do Robins Fly South for the Winter?

Do robins migrate?Courtesy Deb Bordner
An American robin perches in a snowy tree in early March

It might surprise you to find out that robins never fly south for the winter. American robins are year-round residents of the lower 48 states. They may make small migratory movements to find food. What’s the difference: European robin vs American robin.

Where Do Robins Go in Winter?

american robinCourtesy Deb Hagen
American robins find food in trees in winter

You may not be seeing robins on your lawn in winter, so you think they’ve gone away. During the winter months robins gather together into huge flocks, sometimes numbering hundreds or even thousands of birds. And they fly around in these flocks in search of fruit. When they find it, the whole flock will descend and strip every berry from the trees and shrubs that they find, often in a single afternoon.

So, if you want to attract robins in winter, plan now to add fruiting native trees and shrubs to your wildlife garden now. So by next winter you’ll have something to offer these fun and friendly birds. (Psst—here’s what a robin bird call sounds like).

Good choices include: American holly (Ilex opaca), Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), cranberry viburnum (Viburnum trilobum), and winterberry (Ilex verticillata). Ask at your local native plant nursery which berry shrubs will work best for the conditions in your garden.

Next, learn all about robin nests and eggs.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.