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The Familiar and Well-Known American Robin
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.