Monday, June 20, 2011

The American Robin

The Robin's song is a merry tweet tweet; a song that exudes cheerful optimism.  (Some of the Robin's riffs remind me of songs sung by my beloved Canary, JeanPierre. He was a very merry bird.)  The upbeat beat of the Robin's voice combined with a sprightly hopping gait make for jolly birdwatching.

Unlike many common backyard birds, the Robin's courtship rituals are not well known.  We see Mr. Cardinal with his bright red feathers tenderly feeding the blandly colored Mrs. Cardinal.  We see House Sparrows chasing each other with amazing aerodynamic skill.  How they are able to turn and dive with such speed and frenzy without smashing into a lamppost is even more exciting than the grand finale which is Mr. Sparrow mounting Mrs. Sparrow on the ground, on the wire, on the rooftop, on the Barberry Bush and on and on.

Male and female Robins look quite similar.  Both have reddish orange breasts, grey feathers on the wings and back, yellow beak with a black tip and white outlines around the eyes.  Slight differences in appearance include: the male's head is darker grey, almost black and the female has a touch of white on her belly.

Robins build nests out of mud and grasses often in pine trees or on assorted horizontal objects such as a windowsill.  Robins nest early in the spring and usually have 2-3 broods a year sometimes using the same nest.

It takes about two weeks to incubate the 3-4 light blue eggs.  The youngsters leave the nest when they are about four weeks old.

Robins sleep and commune with other birds in large groups.  Incidentally, a group of Robins is called a Worm.  Even during breeding the males will sleep among the flock and return to the nest in the morning. 

The female takes care of the incubation duty.  She typically sits on the eggs for fifty minutes out of each hour, leaving only to eat and drink.  Once the young are born both parents feed them.  Robins eat fruit, earthworms and insects.

Not all Robins migrate to warmer areas during the winter.  Some remain.  Since they can't hunt bugs and worms in the snow, they survive by eating berries and some seeds.

see nice pictures of Robins at
sources:  Guide to Bird Behavior, Volume 1 by Donald Stokes,


  1. This was a great article to read, since earlier this spring we discoverd a robin's nest with baby robins just like your picture. Of course, we did not disturb them. The robin had built the next in the shelter of our Weeping Cherry. Thank you for this article.

  2. I love the little red-breasted birds we have around where I live. I thought they were finches or wrens. I get confused, and I'm happy to learn about the robin and their "worms".
    Very sweet!

  3. I always like seeing the robins turn up again in the spring.

    Of course, they can be pretty territorial where their nests are concerned...

  4. Lynn, I am awarding you the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award for 2011.

  5. I love Robins!

    This reminds me of my father's attempt to save a Robin's eggs from a bratty neighborhood kid some years ago. I'll have to blog about it....