The Noble North American Robin
The North American Robin is a migrating songbird from the
Thrush family. It is named after the European Robin because
the male bird has a bright red breast and so does the
European Robin, but the two species are not actually closely
The North American Robin is ten to eleven inches in length
and weighs nearly three ounces. Its wingspan is around five
inches. The head can vary in color from gray to black. The
eye arcs and super cilia are white, and the throat is white
with black streaks. The belly and under parts are also
The Robin has a brownish gray back and a bright reddish
orange breast. The breast plumage can vary from orange to
cardinal red to maroon. The bird's bill is mainly yellow and
can sometimes have a dark tip. The legs and feet are a
uniform brown in color. The colors become somewhat more
muted during the winter.
The North American Robin can be seen all over North America.
They winter south of Canada in Florida, Central Mexico and
the Pacific Coast and everywhere in between. There are seven
subspecies of these birds, but only the one in the southwest
is distinctive from the others, having pale brown-gray under
parts rather than white.
Robins are diurnal and the birds in a given locality
assemble at night into a large flock. Their food is mainly
insects like beetles, grubs and caterpillars, plus fruits
and berries. The American Robin lays beautiful blue eggs and
they are one of the earliest birds to begin nesting in the
spring. Robins begin mating and breeding as soon as they
return to their summer range.
The nest of the North American Robin consists of coarse
grass, feathers, paper and twigs, chinked with mud and
cushioned with grass and any other soft material they can
find. The Robin is also one of the first birds to wake in
the morning and sing. Hence the Robin is the subject of the
adage "The early bird gets the worm." The song of the Robin
consists of several whistled units that are distinct and
different and are repeated several times.
Robins are often preyed upon by cats, hawks and larger
snakes. So, when Robins are in a flock and feeding they are
vigilant and watch other birds to clue them into when there
is a predator nearby.
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