American Robin

 

Turdus migratorius[i]

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Spring is back, and the robins have returned. Well, in much of the region, some have never left. In fact, others came from further north to spend the winter here.[ii] Yeah, that’s right. Robins are here all year long. It’s just that many people don’t notice them. But some did leave and just made it back from warmer climes further south. However, in much of Northern New England, they do disappear for the winter, as it is just too damned cold there for them.[iii]

And since spring has now sprung, you almost certainly have seen those robins hopping across lawns, and singing their cheerful cheeriup cheerio cheeriu[1] song.[iv] Most people think that they are singing because they are happy that winter is over. Most people would be wrong. Well, they probably are happy that winter is over, because winter sucks and just about everybody is happy that it is finally over. But that is not why they are singing. Nope. First off, only the males sing. Not that females are completely silent, they like the males make various chirp and chunk calls, but, only the males sing. And when they do sing, they are saying “Get out, this is my tree” “This is my lawn, get your ass outta here before I come over there and fuck you up like the bitch you are!” and of course “Hey Ladies.”[v] And yes, I have seen robin fights break out when this song has been ignored. Turns out nature can be quite nasty.

In the warmer months, they are often seen on the ground looking for insects and worms, while in winter they prefer to feed on berries present on trees and bushes all winter long.[vi] I have seen huge flocks of them gobble up berries on sumac trees in the winter.

Despite being a very familiar bird, I will give a brief description: Sexes are similar, with grey backs, darker heads, yellow bills,[vii] and their reddish bellies.[viii] Juvenile birds have spots all over their bellies.[ix] You might also notice the two white spots on their tails as well.[x]

These birds will nest on almost any location off the ground. They prefer trees, but could nest in buildings, rocks, whatever.[xi] They don’t care, and aren’t too fussy, just so long as it is open and easy to get to. However, they do not like cavity nests such as birdhouses[xii]. They are just like “this is a pretty good place” and will build a nest there. They also build a new nest for each brood (whenever they lay eggs) instead of reusing the same one over and over.[xiii] They have two or three broods each year, from April to July.[xiv] The eggs in the nest are robin-egg blue,[xv] because what other color would they be?

Very common, and found just about everywhere in the region, it should come as no surprise that they are the second most numerous native bird species on the continent, behind only the Red Winged Blackbird.[xvi]

Robins are also the State Bird of Connecticut,[xvii] presumably because they are such are such a familiar presence on many of the lawns and public parks across the state, and well, who doesn’t like seeing them.

[1] There are actually many variations of this theme

[i] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[ii] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[iii] Kaufmann, Kenn “American Robin” National Audubon Society Guide to North American Birds. Audubon 09APR2017 http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/american-robin text adapted from Kenn Kauffmann, “Lives of North American Birds” 2001 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

[iv] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 09APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

[v] Harrison, George “Why Do Birds Sing” Birds and Blooms 2017 http://www.birdsandblooms.com/birding/birding-basics/birds-sing/

[vi] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[vii] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[viii] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[ix] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[x] Author Unknown “American Robin” National Geographic 09APR2017 http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birding/american-robin/

[xi] Author Unknown “About Robins” Mass Audubon 2017 http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/american-robins/about

[xii] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 04APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

[xiii] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 04APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

[xiv] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 04APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

[xv] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 04APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

[xvi] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 09APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

[xvii] Author Unknown “American robin” Wikipedia 09APR2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_robin

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