Robin Facts

The robin is a popular bird and a harbinger of spring in many gardens. Robins are found around the world, from Africa to Russia, Europe and the United States. The American robin is the official bird of three states: Michigan, Connecticut and Wisconsin. Great Britain claims the robin as its national bird, as well.

The Latin name for this species is Turdus migratorius. As this indicates, robins are migratory birds. They are found in cities as well as in wild areas, such as the Alaskan wilderness, and they have adapted well to sharing their environment with humans.

Robins' appearance

The American robin is 10 inches long. The males and females sport the telltale red breast, with gray wings, head and back. The throat is white, and the males' throat is darker than that of the female. Males' heads are darker, too. The eyes are surrounded by a white ring. Their young are speckled for protection in the nest, but they, too, grow the red breast when they are between 2 and 3 months old. Robins are a member of the thrush family and are sometimes mistaken for the eyebrowed thrush. Their spotted young are easily confused with the spotted thrush.

The American robin song

The song we associate with the robin is sung by the males, who are frequently the last birds to sing in the evening. They make a variety of sounds to communicate. If a robin feels that its nest is being threatened, it emits a whining sound that resembles a horse's vocalizations. To alert others about a predator, the robin sings a staccato call. When nesting and threatened by a bird of prey, the robin makes a high-pitched noise that is spread around by other robins, which then stay still to avoid detection. The winter call of the robins is different, too.

Robins' diet

Robins eat mostly worms. They can eat caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles and other soft-bodied vertebrates. They also eat berries and fruit, which account for 60 percent of their diet. They also favor sweets, such as cakes and pastries.

Robin nests

Once the robin chooses its mate for the breeding season, both male and female participate in nest construction. They build their nests with mud, twigs and other small branches and then line it with grass. Robins commonly build their nests in the shelter of small trees, bushes or under the eaves of homes. The female lays between two and four eggs, and the female incubates the eggs by staying on the nest. The eggs incubate for two weeks. When the eggs hatch, both parents join in feeding the young.

The chicks, which are born with their eyes closed, open their eyes after five days. They fledge (learn to fly) when they are about two weeks older.

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