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What is an American Robin?

By Ken Black
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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An American robin is a songbird that belongs to a group of birds known as thrushes, and are the largest of the group in North America. The species is one of the most prevalent in North America, found in every state, as well as Canada and Mexico. The American robin often symbolizes the coming of spring, as it is one of the first species many see after the winter, even though many may not migrate at all.

Identifying the American robin is typically a very easy task. The bird has a distinctive orange breast and a gray to dark gray back. Their heads are typically dark, but females have a slightly lighter shade of head color. The bird is comparable in size to a cardinal. They have small, straight yellow beaks, suitable for their predatory and foraging lifestyle.

The diet of the American robin is varied, though they generally prefer various types of insects and worms, but will also eat berries and fruits when insects are not available, such as in the winter. They are known as ground foragers, often hopping or jumping from one spot to another looking for food, which can make them vulnerable to predators, especially the young birds who may not be as watchful as the more mature birds. In the fall, when the American robin's diet focuses more on berries, the birds may even become intoxicated on honeysuckle berries.

The migratory habits of the American robin vary depending on where the bird lives. Some may migrate, but others form large groups in the winter, and spend most of the time in trees where they keep close together and spend very little energy, as both berries and insects are hard to find in many locations during the coldest times of the year.

The female American robin builds chooses the location for its nests, then builds them from the center to the edges. Robins typically build their nests in the lower half of the tree, just behind a layer of leaves and on horizontal branches. These nests are weaved together from various materials, most likely twigs, grasses and even materials humans may leave behind. Eggs are typically 1.1 to 1.2 inches (2.8 to 3 cm) long, and robins typically lay anywhere from three to five.

The young American robins mature very quickly, with the incubation in the egg lasting approximately two weeks. The young birds stay in the nest approximately two weeks after that before they are able to venture out on their own. The birds have a tough time surviving, with a mere 40 percent of nests successfully producing offspring and only a quarter of those birds that do make it, will survive until the fall.

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Discussion Comments
By anon171344 — On Apr 29, 2011

What types of berries and fruits do american robins eat?

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