Field Guide

Photo credit: Laura Erickson

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American Robin

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird of the thrush family.

The American Robin is 25-28 cm (10-11 in) long. It has gray upperparts and head, and orange underparts, usually brighter in the male; the similarity between this coloring and that of the smaller and unrelated European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) led to its common name. There are seven races, but only T . m. confinus in the southwest is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts.

During the breeding season, the adult males grow distinctive black feathers on their heads; after the breeding season they lose this eye-catching plumage.

This bird breeds throughout Canada and the United States. While Robins occasionally overwinter in the northern part of the United States and southern Canada, most winter in the southern parts of the breeding range and beyond, from the southern USA to Guatemala. Most depart south by the end of August and begin to return north in February and March. (Exact dates vary with latitude and climate, of course.)

This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe. In autumn 2003, migration was displaced eastwards leading to massive movements through the eastern USA. Presumably this is what led to no less than three American Robins being found in Great Britain, with two attempting to overwinter in 2003-4, one eventually being taken by a Sparrowhawk.

As with many migratory birds, the males return to the summer breeding grounds before the females and compete with each other for nesting sites. The females then select mates based on the males' songs, plumage, and territory quality. The females build the nest and lay three or four blue eggs in the lined cup. Incubation, almost entirely by the female is 11-14 days to hatching, with another 15-16 days to fledging. Two broods in a season are common.

The American Robin's habitat is all sorts of woodland and more open farmland and urban areas. Food is the typical thrush mixture of insects, earthworms, and berries. Robins are frequently seen running across lawns, picking up earthworms by sight or sound.

Without showing symptoms, the American Robin is sometimes a carrier of the West Nile virus in the Western hemisphere.

The most familiar call of this bird is the cheerily carol song.

This is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.


*Crayola has a crayon color, robin egg blue named after the color of the eggs.
*The American Robin was depicted on the 1986 series Canadian $2 note.

Photo gallery


* Thrushes by Clement and Hathaway, ISBN 0-7136-3940-7

External links

{{Commons|Turdus migratorius}}

*Burroughs Observes a Gourmet Robin. The naturalist John Burroughs marvels over a robin with a curious menu item.
*American Robin - Information Sheet
*Albinism in Robins

Audio Files

*American Robin Song Wave file

Descriptions from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Used under terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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