It’s easy to take the American robin for granted, but these tidbits about Turdus migratorius will have you looking at this common bird with a new sense of wonder.
OK, you saw another Robin, so what? What is the big deal? Robins are all over the place. But have you ever appreciated them? I mean checked out anything about them? Like:
Early Bird: The Robin is one of the first migrating birds that we see back north in the late winter.
- Adaptability: They are adaptable and the habitat that we create in rural areas – a mix of open area, woods edge, lawn, field, pasture, shrubland, and woodland – is ideal for them. They nest and breed from northern Canada all the way to Georgia.
- Eggs: We are used to hearing, “Robin’s egg blue” as a color comparison. Have you ever really checked out the blue in a Robin’s egg? Take a good look when you get a chance, it is an amazing blue!
- Avid Breeders: With 3-5 eggs per clutch and up to three broods per year! However, only 40% of nests produce young and only 25% of those young survive to November.
- Population: 310 million (one for every person in the USA). The entire population turns over every 6 years.
- Coloration: People say “Robin red breast”. Not sure where the “red” comes from because I see it as orange. Usually female birds are not as colorful as males, but both female and male Robins have the nice cheery orange breast. The male has a darker shade of black on its head and so can be told apart from the female.
- Size: Robins are so common that we use them for size comparison: “That is bigger than a Robin”. “That is the same size as a Robin”.
- Song: They are the first song in the morning often heard before the first light of day. We are used to their song, but listen; it has some very nice qualities to it: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/sounds. They are a member of the Thrush family (that family has beautiful flute like calls). Check out some other thrush family songs that are worth listening to and discovering in an evening walk near, or in, a woods:
- Food: worms, right? Robins are known for eating worms because we see them hunting and catching them on our lawns. However, they eat insects and berries too. This diversity allows them to survive under a lot of different conditions.
- Behavior: Robins will often run a few steps and then stand still with head cocked to one side, checking for worms. Sometimes you can see them fighting over a worm. In spring, males can be seen puffing up their white-striped throats, raising and spreading their tails and shaking their wings to attract a female. Later on a male and female may approach each other holding their bills open and touching them.
Alright, now you know more about the common Robin, so get out there and see some of these things for yourself. And if you have interest in other birds, check them out at MyWoodlot.