OTTUMWA — While most people think of spring when they see robins, it's not necessarily an indication that warmer weather is on its way.
Annette Wittrock, a naturalist with the Wapello County Conservation Board, said that robins are spotted every year during the Christmas Bird Count, noting that while some of the birds migrate, others stick around through the cold weather.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not that uncommon to see robins in winter, she said, adding that they're usually just spotted in more sheltered areas.
While some have been seen out in the open, including in town and at Pioneer Ridge Nature Center, the birds usually spend the winter months in deeper shelter out of the wind and the cold. Those that have ventured out may just be looking for food, Wittrock said. She said that the nature center has even received a few calls from people who were worried about the birds freezing but said that's not something to worry about.
"Hopefully nobody's getting their hopes up for an early spring," Wittrock said of people who have spotted the orange-bellied birds.
And as far as birds being a sign of spring, she said to watch for the turkey vultures, which migrate to Mexico. "When those guys come back, that's usually a good sign that spring is already here or will be," she said.