The American Robin is one of North America’s most common and beloved songbirds. Take a listen to their cheery song and learn some surprising facts about the robin.
Click above to hear the sounds and bird song of the American Robin. Compliments of The Macaulay Library at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Facts About the American Robin
Robins are fairly large songbirds, about 8 to 11 inches long with a wingspan of 12 to 16 inches. They are the largest of North American thrushes, almost half again as big as a bluebird. Appropriately, their scientific name, Turdus migratorius, means “wandering thrush.”
We all know robins by their round warm orange breast and long tails. The female looks similar to the male, just a little duller.
It’s fun to watch robins foraging on the ground. They will run a few steps and stop abruptly. In long grass, they even hop. Then they stare motionless at an earthworm with their head cocked to one side. Sometimes, two robins will even tug at the same earthworm, fighting over their food, which can be amusing to those of us watching from the kitchen window!
Robins are often called the harbingers of spring, however, they are often around all winter in many parts of the U.S. and even parts of Canada. They’re just roosting in nearby trees and their diet is mostly fruit (berries).
You just start to hear them singing in the spring as daylight lengthens because the males start to declare their territories and attract females; robins are one of the earliest nesters. Plus, you’ll start to see robins on the ground, especially on home lawns, as the earthworm start to emerge! They’ll even hang out near gardeners, hoping that we’ll turn over worms as they dig the soil!
So, we think that you could still call robins’ song a sign of spring!
Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning; consider reducing toxins from pesticides and fertilizers as contaminated soil particles adhere to the skin of worms. Robins also often ingest lead left over from leaded gasoline and paint.
Many readers complain that robins are a little aggressive. We would call them authoritarian. As early nesters, they are industrious getting ready to mate and brood and feed. Robins may have two or three broods a season. The female does the nest building, although the male might bring her some materials, making it of twigs, grass, and feathers and lining it with mud. She lays three to five bluish eggs which hatch in about two weeks. Very busy!
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Have you heard an American Robin? Add your comments below. Be sure to let us know where you live or where you’ve heard this bird sound before!