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Turdus migratorious [tur' duhs mI gruh tor' E uhs]
This familiar bird is 9-10 inches long, has a wingspan of 12-16 inches, and average 2.7 ounces in weight. Both males and females have a brownish orange-red breast, brownish gray upper parts, blackish head, white throat streaked with black, and outer tail feathers tipped in white. Females are only slightly smaller and duller than males, and telling sexes apart in the wild is often very difficult. Juveniles look much like adults except for having dark spots on the breast and whitish wing coverts.
Distribution and Habitat
The American Robin is one of the most common birds in North America, found from Georgia to Newfoundland, into northern Mexico, and west to the Pacific coast. It is migratory, but is usually the last bird to fly south in the winter and the first to return in the spring; some populations do not migrate at all.
Robins inhabit woodlands, open farmlands, gardens, and urban areas. Their only habitat requirements are the presence of suitable nesting sites and consistent food supply.
Robins start breeding soon after returning to their summer range (usually late March or early April) and continue breeding into July or August. Breeding pairs are monogamous during the breeding season, but do not necessarily stay together in successive seasons. They frequently return to the same nesting site year after year, but a new nest is built each year. The site may be the fork of a tree, a horizontal branch, or even a man-made ledge or shelf. The cup-shaped nest is made by the female from grass, roots and other plant material, rags, string, paper, etc., all held together with mud. The male does not help build the nest, but he will usually accompany the female while she gathers material.
Three to six blue eggs are laid per clutch, and they are incubated by the female for about two weeks. Both parents feed and protect the chicks for about two weeks, after which the chicks are able to leave the nest and find food on their own. Juveniles typically stay near their parents until fully fledged at about four months.
Robins typically have two or three broods per season. Average life span in the wild is about two years.
Robins feed on fruits, berries, insects, grubs, and worms, with over 50% of their diet being fruits. Although they will feed on almost anything available, they prefer wild fruits and berries over cultivated ones, meaning they pose little threat to farmers.
The American Robin is a very friendly and vocal. Males sing frequently through the day, but most commonly in the early morning. The song sounds like "cheerily, cheer up cheer up, cheerily, cheer up."
The American Robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
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This page was last updated on June 19, 2017.