Station 13
American Robin


Physical Traits

gray-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads; fairly large songbirds with a large, round body, long legs, and fairly long tail

Habitat

common across the continent in gardens, parks, yards, golf courses, fields, pastures, tundra, as well as deciduous woodlands, pine forests, shrublands, and forests regenerating after fires or logging.

Diet

They eat large numbers of both invertebrates and fruit. Particularly in spring and summer they eat large numbers of earthworms as well as insects and some snails. They have rarely been recorded eating shrews, small snakes, and aquatic insects. Also eat an enormous variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, and sumac fruits, and juniper berries. One study suggested that robins may try to round out their diet by selectively eating fruits that have bugs in them.

Behavior

Industrious, authoritarian, bound across lawns or stand erect, beak tilted upward, to survey their environs. When alighting they habitually flick their tails downward several times. In fall and winter they form large flocks and gather in trees to roost or eat berries

Nest Building Techniques

Females build the nest from the inside out, pressing dead grass and twigs into a cup shape using the wrist of one wing. Other materials include paper, feathers, rootlets, or moss in addition to grass and twigs. Once the cup is formed, she reinforces the nest using soft mud gathered from worm castings to make a heavy, sturdy nest. She then lines the nest with fine dry grass. The finished nest is 6-8 inches across and 3-6 inches high.

Migration and Range

Short Distance Migrant. Although robins are considered harbingers of spring, many American Robins spend the whole winter in their breeding range. But because they spend more time roosting in trees and less time in your yard, you're much less likely to see them. The number of robins present in the northern parts of the range varies each year with the local conditions.

Cool Facts

Robins eat a lot of fruit in fall and winter. When they eat honeysuckle berries exclusively, they sometimes become intoxicated.

Robin roosts can be huge, sometimes including a quarter-million birds during winter.

In summer, females sleep at their nests and males gather at roosts. As young robins become independent, they join the males. Female adults go to the roosts only after they have finished nesting.

Robins eat different types of food depending on the time of day: more earthworms in the morning and more fruit later in the day.

Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.

The oldest recorded American Robin was 13 years and 11 months old.

Where is the Robin?

Look straight past the numbered station post,
look in the grass about 5 yards in front of the post,
as is typical the American Robin replica is on the ground.

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