The American robin is actually a thrush; it is the largest thrush in North America. American robins were called robins by early settlers because they look very similar to European robins (which also have reddish-orange breasts). Robins are popular birds because they make a cheerful, pleasant sound and they are fun to watch.
In the summer, robins are common in all North American cities and suburbs, but they are also found in wilderness areas such as forests and mountains. Robins are migratory birds. This means they will travel to warmer areas in the winter (although if food is plentiful, they may not migrate). Robins have been known to migrate as far south as southern Mexico and Guatemala.
Robins eat invertebrates and fruit. (Remember that invertebrates are animals lacking backbones such as earthworms, caterpillars, and beetles.) Robins like to eat fruit such as viburnum berries, chokeberries, blueberries, and even holly berries. Baby robins are fed grubs and earthworms by their parents. Robins use their senses of hearing, sight, and smell to ﬁnd prey, but sight is the most used sense for finding food. Robins are well-known for running across lawns and then quickly stopping to pull up an earthworm. They also cock their heads to one side to listen or to look for the worms moving in the earth.
A female robin chooses a nest site usually in April or May. Then she will take a few days to build the nest out of mud, twigs, paper, feathers, and grass. She will lay three to four pretty little blue eggs in the nest – although there might rarely be a white or brown-spotted egg. These eggs are called a “clutch”. Robins may have two, or even three, clutches of eggs throughout the summer. It takes about 12 days for the eggs to hatch. The babies (chicks) stay in the nest for about 13 to 16 days and are fed by their parents (sometimes 35 to 40 meals per day). Young robins are paler in colour than the adults and they have dark spots on their breasts. Males sing more than females and they are also a bit larger and more brightly coloured.
American robins have many predators. Robins’ eggs and babies are common prey for raccoons, crows, ravens, blue jays, snakes, squirrels, cats, owls and hawks. This is probably why American robins only live for an average of two years.
Attracting robins to your backyard is very easy. Supply even a few of the things listed below and robins should come:
- trees and shrubs for finding grubs and nesting sites
- birdbaths for washing (robins love to bath)
- berry bushes (robins in my backyard love my blueberry bushes and my black chokeberry shrubs)
- unpaved dirt or lawn where earthworms can be found
- safety from cats and other predators