American Robins are typical migratory birds that are known for having a warm orange breast, interesting cheery songs, and early appearance at the end of the winter season. They can be observed in different types of habitat in North America, ranging from towns and city areas to wilder places such as mountain forests and Alaskan wilderness. They are considered the largest members of the Thrush family in North America.
The name of American Robins was derived from the European Robin, due to its reddish-orange breast. However, the two birds are not closely related. As a matter of fact, the European Robin belongs to another family – the Old World flycatcher.
Their body size is comparable to northern cardinals and blue jays. An adult American Robin, for instance, has a mean total length and weight of 25 cm and 77 g.
Adult males have cinnamon-red to brick-red underparts, gray to gray-brown upper parts, dark heads, white throats that have some black streaks, little white crescent markings above and below the eyes, and a yellow bill.
While adult females closely resemble the males, they somewhat have a noticeably paler plumage. Juvenile robins also exhibit the same characteristics; although they have dark spotting on the underparts, pale spotting on the upper parts and wing feathers, fully white throat, and less defined white markings around the eye.
Even though the American Robin has seven subspecies, only the species found in Baja, California Sur is distinctive, with its pale gray-brown underparts.
Distribution and Habitat
American Robins are widely spread in the North American continent. Indeed, according to some sources, the species ranks behind only the Red-winged Blackbird as the most abundant extant land bird in North America.
They would spend their winter in Southern Canada and migrate towards central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast as the season ends. However, if the food supply is still stable, some of them would stay in the cold Canadian winters.
The diet of these birds is said to be approximately 40 percent invertebrates and 60 percent fruits.
They would eat invertebrates during spring and summer. Some of the invertebrates that make up their diet are beetle grubs, earthworms, beetles, and caterpillars. In the fall and winter, they would opt for fruits like viburnum, sumac, chokecherries and tomatoes.
Young robins are fed with invertebrates like grubs and earthworms to serve as sources of protein, which is necessary for their proper development.
American Robins are most active during the day. Then, they would assemble in groups during the night.
During foraging, they would run a few steps and take an abrupt stop. In long grasses, they would hop or fly just a few inches above the ground, supported by slow and strong beating of their wings.
American Robins are known for their songs. They are the first birds to sing at dawn. And on this moment, they would showcase their popular song, which is made up of a series of discrete units that are repeated, creating a unique sound that is pleasing to hear.
One interesting fact about American Robins is that it is one of the earliest birds species to lay eggs. In just a few days upon arrival in the summer range from the winter range, they would already start breeding.
The female would choose the nest location and construct the nest. The nest is made up of long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and feathers. Mud is often used to keep these materials together, while grass and other soft materials are used as cushion. It would take about 2 to 6 days for the female to build the nest, making an average of 180 trips a day.
The average size of the clutch is 4 pale blue eggs. The incubation period for these eggs would span for 14 days. After 13-16 days, the eggs will hatch. The chicks are born naked and have closed eyes. With the continuous brooding by the female, the chicks are already able to fledge the nest in a matter of 2 weeks.
American Robins have a stable population. As a matter of fact, the species has experienced a significant population increase in the past 4 decades. Decreased use of pesticides and increase in human development – which has resulted to the creation of more edged habitat, lawns, and ornamental plantings for foraging – were cited as the major reasons behind this population surge. Another factor that contributes to their stable population is their ability to use a wide variety of open and forested habitats and suburban areas.
Their population is threatened by predation. Some of the animals that would prey on adult American Robins are hawks, cats, and larger snacks. However, when they are eating in groups, they would usually observe other birds and their reactions to predatory threats.