Thrushes and Chats: Turdidae
American Robin (turdus Migratorius): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: The American robin has a range in length of 9.8 to 11 inches (25 to 28 centimeters). Males weigh an average of 2.1 to 3.2 ounces (59 to 91 grams); females weigh between 2.5 to 3.3 ounces (72 to 94 grams), and thus are usually larger than males. Both males and females have dark, brownish gray upperparts. Males have black heads and females have heads that are black and brownish gray. Eye rings are white; bills are yellow; and breasts are brick red in the male and chestnut-orange in the female. The lower belly and undertail feathers are white. The tail is dark with white outer corners. Young birds look similar to adults but have white markings on their backs and shoulders, and heavy spotting on their underparts.
Geographic range: The American robin can be found throughout Canada, Alaska, the United States, and Mexico. It winters south of its breeding range, usually in the Bahamas and Guatemala.
Habitat: The American robin prefers to inhabit damp forests and woodlands throughout its territorial range, from the tundra to gardens, parks, in local shrubs, throughout farmland with hedges, and in scattered woods.
Diet: The American robin is an omnivore, feeding on fruits, berries, grass seeds, and many invertebrates including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, snails, spiders, and earthworms.
Behavior and reproduction: This bird is frequently seen feeding on the ground. Outside of breeding season, the birds create large roosts and flocks in winter. They breed between April and August, with their nests often being large and messy. Nests are made of grass, twigs, stems, and string, and lined with mud and fine grass. The female lays three to four bright blue eggs that are incubated for eleven to fourteen days. She has two broods during the season.
American robins and people: The American robin is a very common and easily recognized bird, often seen pulling earthworms up from lawns and gardens. It is significant to North American people as a popular sign of spring, and was once hunted for meat in the southern United States.
Conservation status: This species is not considered to be threatened. ∎
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Alsop, Fred J. III. Birds of North America. Smithsonian Books. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2001.
Campbell, Brude, and Elizabeth Lack, eds. A Dictionary of Birds. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1985.
Fisher, James, and Roger Tory Peterson. The World of Birds. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964.
"All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, Eastern Bluebird." Discover Life in America. http://www.dlia.org/atbi/species/animals/vertebrates/birds (accessed on May 11, 2004).
"Family Turdidae (Thrushes)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Turdidae.html (accessed on June 13, 2004).
Roberson, Don. "Thrushes, Turdidae." CREAGRUS@Monterey Bay. http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/thrushes.html (accessed on May 11, 2004).
"Thrushes, Robins." Birds of the World. http://www.eeb.cornel.edu/winkler/botw/turdidae.html (accessed on May 11, 2004).
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