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The Familiar and Well-Known American Robin

Updated on November 17, 2012
American Robin
American Robin | Source

Who doesn’t know who the robin is in the United States? This bird represents the first sign of spring, though a year-round resident in much of this country, it sometimes simply migrates two streets over. The robin is among the most well-known and widely distributed birds in the entire North American continent and is a member of the thrush family.

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Identification of Male, Female, and Juvenile

The male has a brick red breast and black head, tail, and back. The female has an orange-chestnut breast with dark brown head, tail, and back. Juveniles are similar to adults, but have a heavily spotted breast and white spotting and edging on the back and shoulders.

Baby Robin Characteristics

For those of you that are or have been in wild bird rehabilitation work, this is the most common baby bird that you will care for, as well. Young robins are one of those birds that have to be carefully watched, or they will overeat, because they just always want something in their mouths. If gone unchecked, their crops will explode.

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Robin Calls

You will most likely recognize the familiar sound of the robin before you see it. It has that bright “cheery-cheery-cheerio!” phrase, and sometimes a “tutt-tutt-tutt” or “hip-hip-hip” call.

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Living with the Robin

Robins are either solitary or in pairs. They are gregarious after breeding season. In the winter, they are often in flocks and roost communally with other species. They are fond of berries, worms, and insects. During the winter, they rely on berries and fruit. They readily adapted to humans, especially in agricultural areas. When it comes to the nest sight, they are very defensive, especially as far as the young are concerned. They tend to frequent lawns and shade trees, and are noted for their running, stopping, and foraging tactics in fields and on lawns.

Mother Robin with her youngster
Mother Robin with her youngster | Source
Robin's Nest
Robin's Nest | Source

Nesting and Brooding

They build their bulky cup-shaped nests of grass and mud so close to houses that the empty egg shells become almost as familiar as the birds themselves. You will find nests in trees, nestboxes, on buildings and porches, and if you don’t get your laundry off the clothesline fast enough, you could find a nest in coveralls or shirt pockets. The female incubates for two weeks or less, and the altrical young are also brooded by the female. They are in the nest for another two weeks or slightly better, and the female does most of the feeding. The male will tend the first brood while the female incubates the second clutch. In the south, they can have as many as three broods. They certainly are busy birds, which contributes to why they are so common.

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Migration

By September, all the robins in a region become social and some begin southern travels. Many of the most northern birds will come to the northern U.S., replacing those that may have gone to Florida or Mexico for the winter. By early spring, they are northbound again.

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Habitat

Robins are widespread and abundant in areas including parks, forests, gardens, and woodlands. They will readily come to your feeders for seed and breadcrumbs, and enjoy the birdbath. They will even use a nesting platform if you provide one or two.

Mother and Child
Mother and Child | Source
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Swollen with Eggs
Swollen with Eggs | Source

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Your robin should come back, Hollie. Also, birds like birdbaths, rock piles, and brushpiles, too. If you can have something interesting for your birds and lots of cover, they will always return.

    • HollieT profile image

      HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      This is really interesting ans so timely. There was a robin red breast on my gatepost this morning, I ran to grab my camera but it had gone by the time I came back. I've put a feeder in my front garden now, so hopefully it will be back.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Mrs.M, the robins seem to be everywhere. We also had a lot of them during the summer months at the bird rescue. The numbers of babies were always higher than any other bird.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 4 years ago from The Zoo

      Great photos! You're so right about the rehab thing...so many Robins last summer!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Connie. I also consider them the first bird of spring, too.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Loved this article, Deb! My robins have stayed around a lot longer than usual because of the warmer weather. This week has been cold, so I don't hear them in the woods any more. It was fun to see them hop backwards while overturning crunchy leaves in the woods looking for insects and little berries. It's never really spring until I hear 'cheery-up, cheery-oop!' Voted Up and Beautiful. Your pictures are really nice.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I do so enjoy seeing different birds from all over the world. I met the European Robin yesterday.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub;your Robin is very different to ours. Yours has darker feathers on his back and wings.I loved this one and here's to so many more for us both to share on here.

      eddy.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Alicia, good to see you. I also got a couple of nests that blew down. The baby robins are real characters!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the photos, Deb. It's great to see the robin in its different life stages. I enjoyed learning more about this beautiful bird!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, sgbrown. I think so many of us grew up with this familiar bird and just wouldn't know what to do without it.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I love it when I start to see the robins. That tells me that spring is just around corner. You have a lot of great information on the robin here. I learned a few things about them I did not know. Great hub and your pictures are great! Voting up and interesting! :)

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Johan! Do you have some kind of robin in your part of the world?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Mycee, it is important to me that you are able to do that. I want to bring my birds to you in living color.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They are GREAT birds, globetrekkermel. When they are around, you know that spring is really here after you have experienced a long winter.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Great photos and interesting info. Thanks!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      the Robin is such great birds. though, i havent seen one personally.. but thru your hubs, i've travelled far across the country

    • Globetrekkermel profile image

      Globetrekkermel 4 years ago from CALIFORNIA

      wow! beautiful pictures robin!!! I love robins. I think they are smart birds and have a happy personality

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I'm glad to hear that about your gazebo, shiningirisheyes! Do you have any photos of your birds?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I just looked up your bird, Mel. That is one beautiful bird!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, kashmir! Hope you have a great holiday. Are you hosting dinner, or is someone else?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Funny, isn't it, Highland Terrier? They don't seem to associate with other birds, do they? What are your robins called so I can look them up?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Linda, thanks. Sometimes the more common birds are the most interesting, as we get to know their little nuances better.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Martin, I love it. I suppose you could say that her older brother named her?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Jim, many of them are. Lots of times they will only move a street or two over.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      We have a gazebo and are proud to state it has become quite a haven for nest spots.

      Wonderful hub Deb.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Great to see the American Robin, its different from its English counterpart, which is one of my favorite birds, its slightly smaller I think, and more of a rounded shape, we call it the robin redbreast, voted up!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very interesting hub on the robin i enjoyed reading it and learning more about the robin. Loved all the great photos to !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Amazing photos and excellent amount of information.

      They look nothing like our Robins over here except for the red brest.

      Our Robins are solitary birds only during the breeding season do they tolerate another Robin in their territory.

      I,ve seen many an argument take place in my back garden. Strangely enough other species don't bother them at all.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Hi Deb. As common as this silly bird is in my area, I still learned an awful lot from this hub. I think I have often mistaken the juvenile Robin for other birds (like Starlings). It is a good lesson, to realize that there is so much to know about even the most common things in nature. I enjoyed this very much.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      My daughter's name. She was born so fast, ever thing was in confusion, including me. They asked what her name was. I couldn't remember, so I turned to her 4 year old brother. He said Robin with such confidence, he must be right. Thus Alexandra became Robin.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Great photos and information on that harbinger of Spring, but here they seem to be around in the winter too.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, bdegulio! Did you get a photo of that nest in the wreath?

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Deb. Great look at our friends the Robins. They are plentiful up here and a joy to watch. A few years ago we had a nest built on our front door in a wreath that my wife had on the door. It made for an interesting couple of weeks while we waited for the eggs to hatch. Great job.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Chris! So glad that you liked the story, and there will certainly be more of them.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      aniannovice, thank you for another interesting, cheerful hub about birds. You mentioned that they are defensive about their nests. Yes, I have been dive bombed by Robins. I have also been attacked in the woods during mushroom season by a Goshawk. They are big and vicious. Thanks again.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Billy! I'm already looking forward to seeing the robin at the main part of the lake again.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks to you, Deb, I now know much more about the robin than I ever did before. Very interesting info here my friend!

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