Photo: Gwen Starrett/Great Backyard Bird Count Participant

American Robin

Turdus migratorius

Conservation status 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.
Family Thrushes
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.
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.
Photo Gallery
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.


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.

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.


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.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

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.

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Migration

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.

Songs and Calls
Song is a series of rich caroling notes, rising and falling in pitch: cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up, cheerily.