Phenology Journal: Robin Chorus Synecdoche

In a grand synecdoche, each event in nature always points to other events, one part linked to so many other parts, and ultimately to the whole. So the robin chorus, which begins in the middle of early spring, is a mine from which one might draw out numberless concurrent happenings, all of them together making spring.

In the time of the Robin Chorus Moon, when robins start their singsong calls in morning twilight, then pollen forms on pussy willow catkins, and the first mosquito bites. Moths appear at your porch light. The foliage of spiderwort, yarrow, stonecrop, mallow, phlox, columbine, coneflower, waterleaf, snow-on-the-mountain, goldenrod, buttercup, New England aster, Shasta daisy and Queen Anne’s lace is coming up.

​Worms rise through the ground to mate as the sun warms the mulch above them and the moon waxes. The tufted titmouse courts in spirals. Flickers and purple martins migrate, and willow trees glow yellow green. Mock orange leafs out, pacing the new privet foliage, the lilac, black raspberry, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, clematis and coralberry foliage.

Under the full robin chorus, the first violet lungwort flowers open and bleeding hearts get bushy. The first tulip and daffodil buds form and sometimes bloom. The tree line is tinged with red from flowering maples. Red-winged blackbirds whistle and warble in the swamps, and paired geese trumpet and converse along rivers and shorelines. Turkeys gobble in the woods. And in the last days of the final lunar phase, trillium, hepatica, Dutchman’s britches, bloodroot, spring beauty, twinleaf, violet cress, and lesser celandine announce the advent of April.

The Robin Chorus Moon follows all these and so many more events, shadows and foreshadows them, possibly causes some of them, connects them from the sky. It accompanies, enhances or weakens the tidal waves of high and low pressure that cross the nation, reflects the equinoctial sun, and finally grows dark as sandhill cranes start migrate, stirred by the Sandhill Crane Migration Moon and by the more radical warming and leafing and blossoming forces of middle spring.


A Robin Chorus Timetable for Yellow Springs

The timetable below lists the approximate time of the morning for robins to begin singing in and around Yellow Springs (in southwestern Ohio along the 40th Parallel) during March. For any location, add the difference between local sunrise and the start of robin chorus (40 minutes, for example, on March 8). If you get up early in the dark and listen closely, you will hear their steady, blended calls, combined with whinnies and peeps, filling the neighborhoods. Soon afterwards, the full Great Chorus gets underway: cardinals, then doves, then song sparrows, then crows join in, then house sparrows and blue jays. The chorus may begin earlier in the year throughoutt the South, later in the North.


Day                      Approximate Sunrise            Robin Chorus Begins

March 8:              7:00   (EST)                           6:20 (EST)

March 15:            7:45   (EDT)                           7:05   (EDT)

March 21:            7:35   (EDT)                           6:50   (EDT)

March 28:            7:25   (EDT)                           6:20   (EDT)