American Robin

Common Name: American Robin.

Scientific Name: Turdus Migratorius.

What to look for?  You all know what to look for! The American Robin is a large, round-bellied thrush. They have that proud reddish breast. They have a dark head with small white crescents above and below their eyes. They have a yellow bill with a gray tip. American Robins have black streaks on their white throats. There is a white patch on their lower belly and under their tail feathers. And their backs are brown.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? While you can find American Robins around here all year, your better opportunity for viewing will be from spring into the fall. Look around your lawns and you will probably see one. Or look up in the shrubs, bushes and trees in your yards and the woods around Carillon Stonegate Pond and you may see one snatching a berry.

How big are they? The American Robin averages around ten inches in length. And their wingspan is approximately fourteen inches. They weigh in at just under three ounces.

What are their flight patterns? American Robins are strong, straight, and fast fliers. They have a “flap & bound” flight style - several smooth wing beats interspersed with a short glide where wings are held close to the body. Running is another well developed skill of the American Robin. They usually make a short, straight run with rapid steps, pausing frequently to cautiously pan for prey or predators. If only they could swim – which they cannot, then they could be triathletes!

How else do they behave? American Robins often find worms by staring, motionless, at the ground with the head cocked to one side. We have all seen this – right? And no, they are not listening for the worm! During fall and winter, they often roost in large flocks and spend much more time in trees. During breeding season, American Robins become less social and actively defend their territories during that time – like Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robins have been known to dive mob people!

What’s for dinner? Earthworms, insects and wild berries! In the spring, American Robins eat large numbers of earthworms. In early summer, insects make up majority of diet. American Robins also eat an enormous variety of fruits and wild berries, especially in the winter.

Where do they take up residence? American Robins reside year-round in throughout most of the United States, southern Canada and down into southern Mexico. American Robins are common across many habitats, including gardens, parks, yards, golf courses, fields, pastures, tundra, deciduous woodlands, pine forests, and shrublands.

When and where do they breed and nest? The breeding season for American Robins extends from April through July. They are one of the first birds to begin laying eggs and normally have two or three sets of young in each breeding season. The nests are cup-shaped and are typically located in the lower half of a tree. But American Robins will nest almost anywhere and we have seen nests in gutters, eaves, on outdoor light fixtures, and other structures. Baby birds leave the nest approximately two weeks after they have hatched. And about two weeks after fledging, young American Robins become capable of sustained flight.

Where do they migrate? American Robins can be found year round here in the U.S. Those birds that breed from Canada to the north slope of Alaska leave in fall for the U.S., traveling as far south as the Southwest, the Gulf Coast, and Mexico. When American Robins do migrate or move in winter, it is because food is more readily available elsewhere.

What is their conservation status? There is low concern. The American Robin is numerous and widespread throughout much of North America. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, populations have are stable or increasing throughout their range over the last several decades. Partners in Flight estimate a global breeding population at 370 million.

Do they make any interesting sounds? The musical song of the American Robin is among the earliest bird songs heard at dawn in spring and summer. The song is a series of rich caroling notes, rising and falling in pitch: “cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up, cheerily”. Here is a link to the sounds of an American Robin.

Interesting Facts About the American Robin:

  • State bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.

  • Although 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.

  • American Robin populations are stable or increasing throughout their range over the last few decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

  • Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 310 million, with 79% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 45% in Canada, and 13% in Mexico.

  • The entire American Robin population turns over on average every six years.

  • When American Robins eat honeysuckle berries exclusively, they sometimes become intoxicated.

  • The American Robin roosts can be huge, sometimes including a quarter-million birds during winter.

  • The oldest recorded American Robin was approximately 14 years old.

For more information on the American Robin and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit All About Birds, Audubon Society, and National Geographic.  And the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a wonderful source of information for anyone interested in learning more about birds.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, plants and insects. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!