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Name: Marsha
Status: other
Grade:
Location: IL
Country: USA
Date: N/A 


Question:
It is Feb 1,20ll. We are presently awaiting a huge blizzard, the type we have not seen here in Northern IL for over a decade. I noticed on January 28 that a huge flock of Robins have returned a month earlier than normal. We have 18-20 inches of snow predicted to begin this afternoon. There are hundreds of these birds flying frantically around. Temps will be below zero the day after the storm. Will these birds be able to survive the temps? Also, what could have caused this....could they be evolving into a tougher bird? P.S. I am 50 miles south of Chicago, IL



Replies:
Robins have been overwintering in large numbers in northern Illinois and similar areas for several decades. There is evidence that most of the birds that winter here are migrants from nesting areas farther north, and that "our" summer birds do indeed go farther south. Changes in behavior are likely responses to changing conditions, possibly more food available. This is too short a time frame for evolution to happen.

Storms like the one we're just emerging (Feb. 2, 2011) from are indeed extremely dangerous for all wildlife. Not temperature but whether or not deep snow prevents animals finding food is the main hazard. While many animals of different species will not make it, some will and that is part of the way of the wild.

J. Elliott


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