American robins (Turdus migratorius) are relatively large songbirds common throughout nearly all of North America. They can be found in almost any environment from open fields to woods, as well as suburban lawns and parks. Their cheerful song has made them a popular bird, and in Northern climates they are often the first migratory bird to show up each spring. It is estimated that the current American robin population is around 320 million birds, each with an average lifespan of 2 years.
At about 10 inches long and with a wingspan greater than a foot, American robins are one of the larger songbirds on the continent. The top part of the robin’s body is usually black or grey with white around the eyes, and a distinctive red or orange breast. American robins tend to have bold personalities, and can often be spotted bounding across lawns and open areas looking for food.
The American robin is omnivorous, and eats differently depending on the season and time of day. In the summer, robins will spend their mornings hopping across the ground searching for earthworms, which they hunt purely by sight. They tend to eat more fruits and berries during summer afternoons. In winter, robins will eat honeysuckle berries exclusively, and can sometimes become intoxicated from overindulgence, falling over when they walk.
American robins that live in the Northern United States and Canada migrate south in the winter, whereas those in the Central and Southern U.S. are usually full-time residents. In the winter, robins will gather in trees to roost. At times, these roosts can contain up to a quarter million birds. These roosts make the robins less vulnerable to predators such as hawks and cats, as their wary personalities help warn the entire flock of any impending threat.
In early spring, female robins will build nests in trees or other high places from a combination of grass, twigs and feathers. The nest is lined with mud and cushioned with grass. After mating, the female will lay 3-5 light blue eggs that she will incubate alone until hatching, 14 days later. The chicks will be able two fly two weeks after hatching, and will follow their mother and father around for a short while to beg food from them. American robins can have several broods per year, and will build a new nest for each one. After the mating season is over, female robins will rejoin their roost for the winter.
AMERICAN ROBIN FACTS
- The oldest known American robin lived to be 14 years old.
- Robins will often dive-bomb animals including humans that get too near their nests during brooding.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Field Guide to Birds of North America