Whether you’re an experience birder, or a novice wanting to learn more about birds in your area, there’s always something new to learn about American Robins. Check out these 25 interesting facts about American Robins to learn all about these familiar songbirds.
25 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN ROBINS
With it’s red-breast and frequent, chipper call, the American Robin is one of the most easily identifiable birds in North America. They’re numerous and widespread across the United States and Canada —where they’re often spotted foraging on lawns, in parks, and other common areas. Though you’ve probably seen countless robins in your life, do you really know that much about them?
Take a look these fun and interesting American Robin facts that we’ve compiled for you, enjoy!
1. AMERICAN ROBINS BELONG TO THE THRUSH FAMILY
Thrushes include any species of the family, Turdidae, which belongs to the songbird suborder, Passeri. In general, thrushes have slender bills, long legs, a stocky body and rounded head. They typically vary from 4.5-13 in in length and are found world wide. Other examples of thrushes are the Common Blackbird, Bluebirds, Nightingales, the Veery and of course all the birds with thrush in their name like the Wood Thrush or Hermit Thrush.
2. AMERICAN ROBINS ARE THE LARGEST THRUSHES IN NORTH AMERICA
As far as songbirds go, American Robins are pretty big — they’re the largest thrush found in North America. They have large, round bodies with long tails and lanky legs. The other thrushes native to North America include Bluebirds, Wood Thrushes, Hermit Thrushes, Olive-backed Thrushes, and Gray-cheeked Thrushes.
3. AMERICAN ROBINS ARE OMNIVOROUS EATERS
American Robins eat a varied diet of insects, berries, fruits, and especially earthworms. It’s very likely to spot a robin while it’s foraging for earthworms on your lawn or holding one in its beak. They may also be a common sight at feeders, if you are offering suet with fruit in it or mealworms. They don’t normally eat seeds or nuts, but you may rarely catch them eating from a seed feeder.
4. EARTHWORMS ARE A KEY FOOD SOURCE FOR AMERICAN ROBINS
Though they eat a wide variety of foods, earthworms are the crucial ingredient in an American Robin’s diet. Worms and other invertebrates make up approximately 40 percent of these birds’ diets, and a single Robin can eat 14 feet of earthworms in a day. After the ground freezes in the winter worms are harder to come by, and robins will rely more on fruits and berries.
5. AMERICAN ROBINS RELY ON EYESIGHT TO CATCH WORMS
It was previously assumed that American Robins heavily relied on their sensitive hearing to locate worms moving underneath the soil. While that is true, they also use their eyesight more than you might think. Like most birds, American Robins have keen eyesight that helps them spot even the most subtle shifts around them when foraging for worms. They have monocular vision, meaning they’re able to use each eye independently to observe movement.
6. AMERICAN ROBINS CHANGE THEIR DIET SEASONALLY
If you’re a bird that lives year-round in part of the world where the climate changes with the seasons, you have to be pretty adaptable in terms of your diet. Robins will eat berries, fruits, worms and insects all year. However they sometimes have to rely more on one or the other depending on what is abundant at different times of year. Worms and bugs are more plentiful and easier to catch during the spring and summer. As the weather gets colder they will shift a lot of their diet over to fruits and trees that provide winter berries.
7. AMERICAN ROBINS ARE GREAT SINGERS
American Robins have a complex voice box known as a syrinx, the bird version of a human larynx, that allows them to make a wide range of calls and songs. They sing frequently and are often heard throughout the day, but especially in the morning where they are common members of the dawn chorus of songbirds.
8. AMERICAN ROBINS CAN BROOD THREE TIMES A YEAR
Though American Robins can brood up to three times a year, two broods is usually the average. During this time, around four eggs are laid by the mother, though she can lay up to seven. The mother then incubates them for 12-14 days until they hatch. Babies will remain in the nest for another 14-16 days before fledging.
9. AMERICAN ROBINS DEPEND ON PARENTS AFTER THEY LEAVE THE NEST
Young American Robins remain close to mom and even after they’ve left the nest. They remain on the ground, staying near their parents and asking for food for about another two weeks, until they can fully fly on their own. At about one year they are full breeding adults.
10. FEMALES CRAFT THEIR NESTS WITH NATURAL MATERIALS
Though males may provide some help when it comes to nest building, females are the primary builders. They use twigs, roots, grass, and sometimes bits of plastic or paper to form most of the cup-shaped nest, with a firm inner layer of mud for durability. The inside is then lined with fine grasses and plant fibers.
11. THEY LAY BLUE EGGS
A well known fact about American Robins is that their eggs are quite blue in color. You’ll even see paint, crayons and other blue pigmented items often named “robin’s egg blue”. It’s the females you can thank for this beautiful color. They add the bile pigment, biliverdin, to the eggs while they are forming in their body, before being laid. It is believed one of the reasons for their blue eggs may be because the color helps block UV radiation. This adds protection from direct sunlight when the mother is off the nest.
12. NOT EVERY NESTING PAIR WILL SUCCESSFULLY REPRODUCE
It’s not easy being an American Robin. On average, only 40 percent of nesting pairs will successfully produce offspring. Out of the young that eventually fledge the nest, only 25 percent make it till winter.
13. AMERICAN ROBINS ARE SOMETIMES VICTIMS TO BROOD PARASITISM
The Brown-headed Cowbird is notorious for sneaking its eggs into other birds’ nests so that their offspring is taken care of. While they attempt to put their eggs in American Robins’ nests, it’s rarely successful. American Robins usually reject these eggs before they hatch, and even if the eggs do hatch the offspring typically don’t survive to fledge.
14. MALES ARE THE FIRST TO ARRIVE AT NESTING GROUNDS
During breeding season, which begins in April and lasts through July, males will arrive first to nesting grounds in order to stake out territory. They defend their area from other males by singing or fighting. In general, American Robins start their breeding season earlier than other birds.
15. AMERICAN ROBINS ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON BIRDS
American Robins are widespread and common. It’s estimated that there are over 300 million American Robins in the world and they are one of the most numerous types of backyard birds in North America. Their numbers are so abundant, that they often serve as environmental markers for determining the health of the local ecosystem.
16. MALE AND FEMALES LOOK VERY SIMILAR
With many birds, there are noticeable coloration or size differences between males and females. However, male and female robins look very similar and can be tricky to tell apart. The only key difference is that females have duller coloration than males, but even still there are overlaps.
17. AMERICAN ROBINS GET THEIR NAME FROM EUROPEAN ROBINS
Like it’s name implies, the American Robin is native to North America. When early settlers began to colonize along the eastern coast, they named this bird “robin” after the similarly red-breasted European Robin they were familiar with from back home. European Robins are smaller than their American counterparts, with lighter plumage, paler heads, and shorter wings.
18. THERE ARE LOTS OF OTHER “ROBINS”
Over 120 kinds of birds include the word “robin” in their name. However, this doesn’t mean they are all related, or even very similar, to American Robins. These other birds include robin-chats, magpie-robins, and bush-robins. There are also unrelated, ground-feeding members of the family Muscicapidae in Australia and New Guinea that are called robins, such as Scarlet Robins.
19. THERE ARE 7 SUBSPECIES OF AMERICAN ROBINS
The subspecies of American Robins are distributed in different regions and possess different colorations than the standard American Robin, though these differences aren’t usually very noticeable. There are 5 subspecies found in North America; T.m. migratorius, T. m. achrusterus, T. m. nigrideus, T. m. propinquus, and T. m. caurinus.
20. AMERICAN ROBINS ARE FAST FLIERS
American Robins can fly up to 20-35 miles per hour depending on weather conditions. The type of flight they are engaging in also determines how fast they fly. For example migrating birds flying at higher altitudes tend to fly faster than birds casually flying around a suburban neighborhood.
21. MANY AMERICAN ROBINS ARE STILL AROUND DURING THE WINTER
Although American Robins are associated with the coming of spring, it doesn’t mean they disappear in the winter. Robins that spend the summer in Canada and Alaska do move south for the winter. In the U.S. it is a little more complicated, with some Robins choosing to move further south and some deciding to stay year-round. If winters are cold and snowy where you live, chances are at least a portion of the local robin population may travel a little further south.
However there are many American Robins that remain in their breeding range when winter comes around. They typically aren’t searching your frozen lawn for worms this time of year, you won’t often see them. In the winter robins retreat to the woods or areas where they can forage among trees and shrubs.
22. AMERICAN ROBINS ROOST TOGETHER IN LARGE GROUPS
At night, American Robins gather in flocks to roost together. These roosts can be very large, up to a quarter-million birds in the winter. Females stay in their nests during the breeding season, but males will go to join the roosts.
23. AMERICAN ROBINS CAN BECOME INTOXICATED
One of the most interesting facts about American Robins is that they sometimes get drunk. As we’ve mentioned, in the fall and winter their diet includes more berries and fruit. Those that eat a large amount of fallen, fermenting fruit sometimes become intoxicated due to the alcohol created in the fermentation process. Some of fruits and berries likely to cause intoxication as they ferment include huckleberries, blackberries, juniper berries, and crabapples.
24. THE AMERICAN ROBIN IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR STATE BIRDS
The American Robin is the state bird of not one, but three different states; Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Its familiar likeness is also frequently spotted on flags, coins, and spring decor.
25. AMERICAN ROBINS NEED TO WATCH FOR PREDATORS
It’s not easy being small — there are a number of threats that American Robins must watch out for. Young robins and robins’ eggs are vulnerable to snakes, squirrels, and even other birds such as Blue Jays and American Crows. Domesticated and feral cats, foxes, and accipiter hawks are other dangerous predators for adult robins.
Talia enjoys learning and writing about birds and other types of animals, then sharing her knowledge.