English folklore is full of references to 'Robin Redbreast'. This entry isn't about him. This entry is about the North American bird that comes 'bob-bob-bobbin' along'. The American robin is a common sight in yards across the continent, especially right after rain, when it comes hopping along next to the stalking grackles. When a robin tilts its head and eyes the ground, it's looking for worms. When it finds one, the tug-of-war begins. Watching robins eat dinner can be highly entertaining.
Who, What, Where... Okay, Taxonomy, Habitat, Diet
The American Robin, or Turdus migratorius, is a kind of thrush, related to redwings and blackbirds. It's a passerine bird, meaning its feet can grasp a tree branch, but you're most likely to see one hopping around on the ground. In spite of the name 'migratorius', robins can be found throughout the continental United States year-round. Some robins will visit Canada to breed, and some will winter in Mexico. In fall and winter, the birds gather in huge flocks numbering hundreds.
Robins can be found anywhere, from cities and towns to farmland and forest. They're friendly birds: they'll sometimes follow farmers and gardeners around as they turn up the soil. They've figured out that it's a good way to catch a surprised worm. They can and will nest on roofs and the eaves of houses. Respectful humans can observe the nesting process.
Robins are prolific and can produce three broods per year. They need to be: only 40% of nests produce young, and only 25% of these survive to the beginning of winter. Making more robins is a lot of work.
Robins really like fruit, even fermented fruit. And yes, there are 'drunk robins' videos.
Robins' eggs are distinctive, which is why there is a colour called 'robin's-egg blue.' They lay 3-7 eggs, usually 4, and feed the young for 14-16 days after hatching. Once the fledglings learn to fly, they're off, and the nest is abandoned.
How to Help Robins
- Don't use pesticides in your garden.
- Leave out crumbled suet. Nesting birds need the energy.
- Provide berries. If you don't have berry trees, leave out raisins and dried cranberries.
Enjoy watching the robins and listening to their distinctive song. It's up to you whether you think that male robin is singing 'wake up, wake up, you sleepyhead!' or just 'this is my worm, get your own!'