Bird of the Month
by
Russ Chappell

American Robin

The American Robin, a North American songbird and our largest thrush, is common in gardens, parks, yards, golf courses, fields, pastures, deciduous woodlands, pine forests, shrub lands, and regenerating forests after fires or logging. 

A gray-brown bird with a large, round body, long legs and fairly long tail, orange beneath and dark-headed, it displays a white patch on its lower belly and under the tail during flight. Females have paler heads that contrast less with their gray backs. A robin’s presence is often broadcast with clear, lilting musical whistles.

They are known to visit feeders where mealworms or animal-fat suet are on offer, and can be attracted to a backyard with a proper nesting box if it is installed well before breeding season.

They forage on earthworms, insects, snails and fruit, and seem to consume certain foods depending on the time of day, i.e. earthworms for breakfast and fruit later in the day (especially if there are bugs in it). During fall and winter robins may become intoxicated after eating fermented honeysuckle berries.

The female chooses the nesting site, typically hidden on a low to mid-level, horizontal tree branch, but occasionally on the ground in a thicket. The nest, six to nine inches across and three to six inches deep, is constructed by pressing dead grass, twigs, paper, feathers, rootlets or moss into a cup shape using the wrist of her wing, and finalized with mud for strength and grass for comfort.  

There are up to three broods a year of three to five eggs each. The young are born helpless and naked except for sparse white down. Sadly, 40% of nests fail to successfully produce young, and only 25% of fledglings survive to November.

The American robin is considered a common backyard bird in North America, with a current world population estimated at 310 million, and not considered threatened.

One of the first birds a child learns about and a species replete with history, mythology and stories, this is certainly one species every birder looks forward to adding to the list. Happy Birding!

The Prescott Audubon Society is an official chapter of the National Audubon Society. Check it out online at PrescottAudubon.org.