American RobinTurdus migratorius

adult male
Claude Nadeau/VIREO
adult male
Bob Steele/VIREO
juvenile
James M. Wedge/VIREO
adult
Garth McElroy/VIREO
adult male with nestlings
Ron Austing/VIREO
adult female
Arthur Morris/VIREO

Family

Description

A very familiar bird over most of North America, running and hopping on lawns with upright stance, often nesting on porches and windowsills. The Robin's rich caroling is among the earliest bird songs heard at dawn in spring and summer, often beginning just before first light. In fall and winter, robins may gather by the hundreds in roaming flocks, concentrating at sources of food.

Habitat

Cities, towns, lawns, farmland, forests; in winter, berry-bearing trees. Over most of continent, summers wherever there are trees for nest sites and mud for nest material. In arid southwest, summers mainly in coniferous forest in mountains, rarely in well-watered lowland suburbs. In winter, flocks gather in wooded areas where trees or shrubs have good crops of berries.

Feeding Diet

Mostly insects, berries, earthworms. In early summer, insects make up majority of diet; also feeds on many earthworms, snails, spiders, other invertebrates. Feeds heavily on fruit, especially in winter (fruit accounts for perhaps 60% of diet year-round); mainly wild berries, also some cultivated fruits. Young are fed mostly on insects and earthworms.

Feeding Behavior

Does much foraging on the ground, running and pausing on open lawns; apparently locates earthworms by sight (not, as had been suggested, by hearing them move underground). When not nesting, usually forages in flocks.

Nesting

Males arrive before females on nesting grounds and defend territories by singing, sometimes by fighting. In early stages of courtship, female may be actively pursued by one or several males. Nest: Female does most of nest building with some help from male. Site on horizontal branch of tree or shrub, usually 5-25' above ground, rarely on ground or up to 70' high; also nests on ledges of houses, barns, bridges. Nest is a cup of grasses, twigs, debris, worked into solid foundation of mud, lined with fine grasses and plant fibers. Eggs: Usually 4, sometimes 3-7. Pale blue or "robin's-egg blue." Incubation by female, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed young, though female does more. Parents very aggressive in defense of nest. Young leave the nest about 14-16 days after hatching. Male may tend the fledged young while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per season, sometimes 3.

Eggs

Usually 4, sometimes 3-7. Pale blue or "robin's-egg blue." Incubation by female, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed young, though female does more. Parents very aggressive in defense of nest. Young leave the nest about 14-16 days after hatching. Male may tend the fledged young while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per season, sometimes 3.

Young

Both parents feed young, though female does more. Parents very aggressive in defense of nest. Young leave the nest about 14-16 days after hatching. Male may tend the fledged young while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per season, sometimes 3.

Conservation

Abundant and widespread. Because it is so familiar and occurs around places where humans live, it sometimes serves as an early warning of environmental problems, such as overuse of pesticides.

Range

Migrates in flocks, often by day. Although some robins winter as far north as Canada, they are in localized concentrations then. With the breakup of flocks prior to the nesting season, when northerners see their "first robin of spring," it may be a bird that has wintered only a few miles away, not one that has just arrived from southern climates. To the south, winter range is highly variable from year to year, depending on local food supplies.

Listen

whinny calls
zeeeup flight note NY (le)
song #1
whinny calls
song & whinny call
dawn song NY (le)
peek & tut calls (nest alarm)
whisper songs
song #2
high seee (hawk alarm) MI

Similar Species

adult

Wood Thrush

Seemingly not as shy as the other brown thrushes, not as bold as the Robin, the Wood Thrush seems intermediate between those two related groups. It sometimes nests in suburbs and city parks, and it is still common in many eastern woodlands, where its flutelike songs add music to summer mornings. However, numbers of Wood Thrushes have declined seriously in recent decades, focusing the attention of conservationists on the problems facing our migratory birds.

adult male

Varied Thrush

The haunting songs of the Varied Thrush echo through the dense humid forests of the Pacific Northwest. Long minor-key whistles repeated after deliberate pauses, they seem like sounds without a source; only a careful searcher will find the bird itself. Although it looks superficially like a robin, the Varied Thrush is far more elusive, usually feeding on the ground among dense thickets. Typical of the far west, it sometimes surprises birders by straying all the way to the Atlantic Coast in winter.

adult male

Clay-colored Thrush

From eastern Mexico to northern Colombia, this plain gray-brown thrush is very common in lowland habitats, including parks and gardens. In recent years it has become a regular visitor to southernmost Texas, especially in winter, and it has even nested there a number of times. It was formerly called Clay-colored Robin.

adult male

Eastern Towhee

Sometimes secretive but often common, this bird may be noticed first by the sound of industrious scratching in the leaf-litter under dense thickets. In the nesting season, males become bolder, singing from high perches. In some areas this bird is commonly known as "Chewink," after the sound of its callnote. In parts of the Southeast and Florida, the towhees have white eyes.

adult male, interior

Spotted Towhee

A widespread towhee of the West, sometimes abundant in chaparral and on brushy mountain slopes. For many years it was considered to belong to the same species as the unspotted Eastern Towhees found east of the Great Plains, under the name of Rufous-sided Towhee. The Spotted Towhee differs in the heavy white spotting on its upperparts, and its songs and callnotes are more variable and much harsher in tone. It often is first noticed because of the sound of its industrious scratching in the leaf-litter under dense thickets.

Vireo

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