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American robin
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
American robin
Conservation status
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Turdus
T. migratorius
Binomial name
Turdus migratorius
Linnaeus, 1766
American Robin-rangemap.png
Breeding range
Year-round range
Wintering range
Merula migratoria
Planesticus migratorius
File:Robin sings.ogv
Male sings
The American robin (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird of the thrush fa
mily. It is named after the European robin[2] because of its reddish-orange brea
st, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belo
nging to the Old World flycatcher family. The American robin is widely distribut
ed throughout North America, wintering from southern Canada to central Mexico an
d along the Pacific Coast. It is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wi
sconsin.[3] According to some sources, the American robin ranks behind only the
red-winged blackbird (and just ahead of the introduced European starling and the
not-always-naturally-occurring house finch) as the most abundant extant land bi
rd in North America.[4] It has seven subspecies, but only T. m. confinis of Baja
California Sur is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts.
The American robin is active mostly during the day and assembles in large flocks
at night. Its diet consists of invertebrates (such as beetle grubs, earthworms,
and caterpillars), fruits, and berries. It is one of the earliest bird species
to lay eggs, beginning to breed shortly after returning to its summer range from
its winter range. Its nest consists of long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and fea
thers, and is smeared with mud and often cushioned with grass or other soft mate
rials. It is among the first birds to sing at dawn, and its song consists of sev
eral discrete units that are repeated.
The adult robin is preyed upon by hawks, cats, and larger snakes, but when feedi
ng in flocks, it can be vigilant and watch other birds for reactions to predator
s. Brown-headed cowbirds lay eggs in robin nests (see brood parasite), but robin
s usually reject the cowbird eggs.
Contents [hide]

Distribution and habitat
Conservation status
In culture
See also
External links
This species was first described in 1766 by Carl Linnaeus in the twelfth edition
of his Systema Naturae as Turdus migratorius.[5] The binomial name derives from
two Latin words: turdus, "thrush", and migratorius from migrare "to go". The te
rm robin for this species has been recorded since at least 1703.[6] There are ab
out 65 species of medium to large thrushes in the genus Turdus, characterized by
rounded heads, longish pointed wings, and usually melodious songs.[7] A study o
f the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene indicates that the American robin is not p
art of the Central/South American clade of Turdus thrushes; instead it shows gen
etic similarities to the Kurrichane thrush, T. libonyanus, and the olive thrush,
T. olivaceus, both African species.[8][9] This conflicts with a 2007 DNA study
of 60 of 65 Turdus species which places the American robin's closest relative as
the rufous-collared robin (T. rufitorques) of Central America. Though having di
stinct plumage, the two species are similar in vocalization and behavior. Beyond
this, it lies in a small group of four species of otherwise Central American di
stribution, suggesting it recently spread northwards into North America.[10]
Seven subspecies of American robin are recognized. These subspecies intergrade a
nd are only weakly defined.[7]
T. m. migratorius, the nominate subspecies, breeds in the US and Canada, other t
han down the west coast, to the edge of the tundra from Alaska and northern Cana
da east to New England and then south to Maryland, northwest Virginia, and North
Carolina. It winters in southern coastal Alaska, southern Canada, most of the U
S, Bermuda, the Bahamas and eastern Mexico.[7]
T. m. nigrideus breeds from coastal northern Quebec to Labrador and Newfoundland
and winters from southern Newfoundland south through most of the eastern US sta
tes to southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and northern Georgia. It is unif
ormly darker or blackish on the head, with a dark gray back. The underparts are
slightly more red than those of the nominate subspecies.[7]
T. m. achrusterus breeds from southern Oklahoma east to Maryland and western Vir
ginia and south to northern Florida and the Gulf states. It winters through much
of the southern part of the breeding range. It is smaller than the nominate sub
species. The black feathers of the forehead and crown have pale gray tips. The u
nderparts are paler than those of the nominate subspecies.[7]
T. m. caurinus breeds in southeast Alaska through coastal British Columbia to Wa
shington and northwest Oregon. It winters from southwest British Columbia south
to central and southern California and east to northern Idaho. It is very slight
ly smaller than the nominate subspecies and very dark-headed. The white on the t
ips of the outer two tail feathers is restricted.[7]
T. m. propinquus breeds from southeast British Columbia, southern Alberta, south
west Saskatchewan south to southern California and northern Baja California. It
winters throughout much of the southern breeding range and south to Baja Califor
nia. It is the same size as or slightly larger than nominate T. m. migratorius,
but paler and tinged more heavily brownish-gray. It has very little white on the
tip of the outermost tail feather. Some birds, probably females, lack almost an
y red below. Males are usually darker and may show pale or whitish sides to the

T. m. confinis breeds above 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in the highlands of southern Baja
California. This form is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underpa
rts. It is relatively small, and the palest subspecies, with uniform pale gray-b
rown on the head, face and upperparts. It usually lacks any white spots to the t
ips of the outer tail feathers, which have white edges. It is sometimes classed
as a separate species, the San Lucas robin,[7] but the American Ornithologists'
Union regards it as only a subspecies, albeit in a different group from the othe
r races.[11]
T. m. phillipsi is resident in Mexico south to central Oaxaca. It is slightly sm
aller than propinquus but has a larger bill; the male's underparts are less bric
k-red than the nominate subspecies, and have a rustier tone.[7]
The nominate subspecies of the American robin is 23 to 28 cm (9.1 to 11.0 in) lo
ng with a wingspan ranging from 31 to 41 cm (12 to 16 in), with similar size ran
ges across all races. The species averages about 77 g (2.7 oz) in weight, with m
ales ranging from 72 to 94 g (2.5 to 3.3 oz) and females ranging from 59 to 91 g
(2.1 to 3.2 oz).[12][13] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 11.5 to
14.5 cm (4.5 to 5.7 in), the culmen is 1.8 to 2.2 cm (0.71 to 0.87 in) and the
tarsus is 2.9 to 3.3 cm (1.1 to 1.3 in).[14] The head varies from jet black to g
ray, with white eye arcs and white supercilia.[15] The throat is white with blac
k streaks, and the belly and undertail coverts are white. The robin has a brown
back and a reddish-orange breast, varying from a rich red maroon to peachy orang
e.[12] The bill is mainly yellow with a variably dark tip, the dusky area becomi
ng more extensive in winter, and the legs and feet are brown.[15]
The sexes are similar, but the female tends to be duller than the male, with a b
rown tint to the head, brown upperparts and less bright underparts. However, som
e birds cannot be safely sexed on plumage alone.[7] The juvenile is paler in col
or than the adult male and has dark spots on its breast,[12] and whitish wing co
verts.[15] First-year birds are not easily distinguishable from adults, but they
tend to be duller, and a small percentage retains a few juvenile wing coverts o
r other feathers.[15]
Distribution and habitat[edit]
This bird breeds throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada southw
ard to northern Florida and Mexico.[16] While robins occasionally overwinter in
the northern part of the United States and southern Canada,[12] most migrate to
winter south of Canada from Florida and the Gulf Coast to central Mexico, as wel
l as along the Pacific Coast.[16] Most depart south by the end of August and beg
in to return north in February and March (exact dates vary with latitude and cli
mate). Despite being depicted in the film Mary Poppins "feathering its nest" in
London,[17] this species is actually a rare vagrant to western Europe, where the
majority of records, more than 20, have been in Britain.[7] In autumn 2003, mig
ration was displaced eastwards leading to massive movements through the eastern
U.S., and presumably this is what led to no fewer than three American robins bei
ng found in Britain[citation needed], with two attempting to overwinter in 2003 20
04,[18] although one was taken by a sparrowhawk.[19][20] The most recent sightin
g in Britain occurred in January 2007.[21]
This species has also occurred as a vagrant to Greenland, Jamaica, Hispaniola, P
uerto Rico and Belize. Vagrants to Europe, where identified to subspecies, are n
ominate T. m. migratorius, but the Greenland birds also included T. m. nigrideus
, and some of the southern overshots may have been T. m. achrusterus.[7]

The American robin's breeding habitat is woodland and more open farmland and urb
an areas. It becomes less common as a breeder in the southernmost part of the De
ep South of the United States, and there prefers large shade trees on lawns.[22]
Its winter habitat is similar but includes more open areas.[7]
Conservation status[edit]
The American robin has an extensive range, estimated at 16,000,000 km2 (6,200,00
0 sq mi), and a large population of about 320 million individuals. The species i
s not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion o
f the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generat
ions), and is therefore evaluated as least concern.[1] At one point, the bird wa
s killed for its meat, but it is now protected throughout its range in the Unite
d States by the Migratory Bird Act.[12]
Birds in central California of the subspecies propinquus are considered to be st
ill increasing their range, and this is probably the case elsewhere in the U.S.A
The American robin is a known reservoir (carrier) for West Nile virus. While cro
ws and jays are often the first noticed deaths in an area with West Nile virus,
the American robin is suspected to be a key host, and holds a larger responsibil
ity for the transmission of the virus to humans. This is because, while crows an
d jays die quickly from the virus, the American robin survives the virus longer,
hence spreading it to more mosquitoes, which then transmit the virus to humans
and other species.[23][24]
The American robin is active mostly during the day, and on its winter grounds it
assembles in large flocks at night to roost in trees in secluded swamps or dens
e vegetation. The flocks break up during the day when the birds feed on fruits a
nd berries in smaller groups. During the summer, the American robin defends a br
eeding territory and is less social.[12]
Male with a worm
Perching on tree
The American robin's diet generally consists of around 40 percent small inverteb
rates (mainly insects), such as earthworms, beetle grubs, caterpillars and grass
hoppers, and 60 percent wild and cultivated fruits and berries.[12] Their abilit
y to switch to berries allows them to winter much farther north than most other
North American thrushes. They will flock to fermented Pyracantha berries, and af
ter eating sufficient quantities will exhibit intoxicated behavior such as falli
ng over while walking. Robins forage primarily on the ground for soft-bodied inv
ertebrates, and find worms by sight, pouncing on them and then pulling them up.[
16] Nestlings are fed mainly on worms and other soft-bodied animal prey. In some
areas, robins, particularly of the coastal race T. m. caurinus, will feed on be
aches, taking insects and small mollusks.[7]
The robin uses auditory, visual, olfactory and possibly vibrotactile cues to ?nd
prey, but vision is the predominant mode of prey detection.[25] It is frequentl
y seen running across lawns picking up earthworms, and its running and stopping
behavior is a distinguishing characteristic. In addition to hunting visually, it
also has the ability to hunt by hearing. Experiments have discovered that it ca
n find worms underground by simply using its listening skills.[25]:149 It typica
lly will take several short hops and then cock its head left, right or forward t
o detect movement of its prey. In urban areas, robins will gather in numbers soo
n after lawns are mowed or where sprinklers are in use.[16] They also are attrac

ted to freshly turned earth in gardens, where worms and grubs are abundant targe
ts. Occasionally, they may visit bird feeders if mealworms or animal-fat suet is
Juvenile robins and eggs are preyed upon by squirrels, snakes, and some birds, s
uch as blue jays, Steller's jay, common grackles, American crows, and common rav
ens.[12] Adults are primarily taken by Accipiter hawks, cats, dogs, and larger s
nakes (especially rat snakes).[26] They may be taken by nearly every variety of
North American accipitrid, from the smallest, the sharp-shinned hawk, to one of
the two largest, the golden eagle, most every North American falcon from the sma
llest, the American kestrel, to the largest, the gyrfalcon, and almost all owl s
pecies from northern pygmy owls to snowy owls. Overall, 28 raptorial bird specie
s are known to hunt robins.[27][28][29][30][31][32] Adult robins are most vulner
able when distracted by breeding activities though may also be attacked on the g
round or even in flight. However, when feeding in flocks, the American robin is
able to remain vigilant and watch other flock members for reactions to predators
The American robin is known to be a rejecter of cowbird eggs, so brood parasitis
m by the brown-headed cowbird is rare. Even when it occurs, the parasite's chick
does not normally survive to fledging.[33] In a study of 105 juvenile robins, 7
7.1% were infected with one or more species of endoparasite, with Syngamus speci
es the most commonly encountered, found in 57.1% of the birds.[34]
The American robin begins to breed shortly after returning to its summer range.
It is one of the first North American bird species to lay eggs, and normally has
two to three broods per breeding season, which lasts from April to July.[12]
The nest is most commonly located 1.5 4.5 m (4.9 14.8 ft) above the ground in a dens
e bush or in a fork between two tree branches, and is built by the female alone.
The outer foundation consists of long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and feathers.
This is lined with smeared mud and cushioned with fine grass or other soft mate
rials. A new nest is built for each brood, and in northern areas the first clutc
h is usually placed in an evergreen tree or shrub while later broods are placed
in deciduous trees.[12] The American robin does not shy away from nesting close
to human habitation[35] and will frequently construct nests under eaves or awnin
gs on human homes when such locations provide adequate shelter. Robins are not c
avity nesters, and so will generally not use a bird house, but will take advanta
ge of artificial nesting platforms that have been provided.
A clutch consists of three to five light blue eggs, and is incubated by the fema
le alone. The eggs hatch after 14 days, and the chicks leave the nest a further
two weeks later. The altricial chicks are naked and have their eyes closed for t
he first few days after hatching.[36] While the chicks are still young, the moth
er broods them continuously. When they are older, the mother will brood them onl
y at night or during bad weather.
The chicks are fed worms, insects, and berries. Waste accumulation does not occu
r in the nest because adults collect and take it away. Chicks are fed, and then
raise tails for elimination of waste, a solid white clump that is collected by a
parent prior to flying off. All chicks in the brood leave the nest within two d
ays of each other.[12] Even after leaving the nest, the juveniles will follow th
eir parents around and beg food from them. Juveniles become capable of sustained
flight two weeks after fledging.[12]
The adult male and female both are active in protecting and feeding the fledged
chicks until they learn to forage on their own. The adult robin gives alarm call
s and dives in a threatening manner towards creatures it considers potential pre

dators, such as approaching cats, dogs and humans. The fledglings are able to fl
y short distances after leaving the nest. The wings of juvenile birds develop ra
pidly, and it only takes a couple of weeks for them to become proficient at flyi
ng. The cryptically colored young birds perch in bushes or trees for protection
from predators.
Bird banders have found that only 25% of young robins survive the first year.[12
] The longest known lifespan in the wild of an American robin is 14 years; the a
verage lifespan is about 2 years.[12]
Newly hatched chick among unhatched young
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden
Nest amidst human habitat
Sequence of dated images showing the progress from eggs to flight in three weeks
Newly hatched chicks
American Robin, 2016, New England
American robin in Rhode Island
American Robin
Dawn song of the American robin, with a chickadee heard faintly in the backgroun
Problems playing this file? See media help.
The male American robin, as with many thrushes, has a complex and almost continu
ous song. Its song is commonly described as a cheerily carol, made up of discret
e units, often repeated, and spliced together into a string with brief pauses in
between.[22] The song varies regionally, and its style varies by time of day. T
he song period is from early March in California to late July or early August; s
ome birds, particularly in the east, sing occasionally into September or later.
The American robin is often among the first songbirds singing as dawn rises or h
ours before, and last as evening sets in. It usually sings from a high perch in
a tree.[12] The song of T. m. confinis is weaker than that of the nominate subsp
ecies, and lacks any clear notes.[7]
The robin also sings when storms approach and again when storms have passed.[37]
In addition to its song, the American robin has a number of calls used for comm
unicating specific information such as when a ground predator approaches, and wh
en a nest or robin is being directly threatened. Even during nesting season, whe
n robins exhibit mostly competitive and territorial behavior, they may still ban
d together to drive away a predator.[7]
In culture[edit]
The American robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.[3]
It was also depicted on the 1986 Birds of Canada series Canadian $2 note, but t

his note has since been withdrawn.[38][39]

Robin's egg blue is a color named after the bird's eggs.[6]
The American robin has a place in Native American mythology. The story of how th
e robin got its red breast by fanning the dying flames of a campfire to save a N
ative American man and a boy is similar to those that surround the European robi
n.[40] The Tlingit people of Northwestern North America held it to be a culturehero created by Raven to please the people with its song.[41] One of the houses
of the Raven Tribe from the Nisga'a Nation holds the robin as a house crest.
The Peace Bridge robins were a family of American robins that attracted minor pu
blicity in the mid-1930s for their prominent nest on the Canadian side of the Pe
ace Bridge connecting Buffalo, New York to Fort Erie, Ontario.[42]
The robin is considered a symbol of spring.[43] A well-known example is a poem b
y Emily Dickinson, "I Dreaded That First Robin So". Among other 19th-century poe
ms about the first robin of spring is "The First Robin" by Dr. William H. Drummo
nd, which according to the author's wife is based on a Quebec superstition that
whoever sees the first robin of spring will have good luck.[44] The harbinger of
spring sobriquet is borne out by the fact that robins tend to follow the 37 F (3
C) isotherm north in spring, but also south in fall.[45]
American popular songs featuring this bird include "When the Red, Red Robin (Com
es Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)", written by Harry M. Woods[46] and a hit for Al Jol
son and others, and "Rockin' Robin", written by Roger Thomas and a hit for Bobby
Day and others.
Although the comic-book superhero Robin was inspired by an N. C. Wyeth illustrat
ion of Robin Hood,[47][48] a later version had his mother nicknaming him Robin b
ecause he was born on the first day of spring.[49] His red shirt suggests the bi
rd's red breast.
See also[edit]
Australasian robins of genus Petroica
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ril 2012.
Jump up ^ Groth, Gary (15 October 2005). "Jerry Robinson". The Comics Journal (2
71). Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2008. I
had a vision of Robin Hood just as Wyeth drew him in his costume, and that's wh
at I quickly sketched out when I suggested [the name] Robin, which they seemed t
o like, and then showed them the costume.
Jump up ^ Ringgenberg, Steven (13 December 2011). "Jerry Robinson: January 1st,
1922 December 7th, 2011". tcj.com. Retrieved 18 April 2013. Robinson added much
to the luster of the Batman legend, including coming up with the name Robin the
Boy Wonder (inspired by Robin Hood), and designing his costume (inspired by the
N.C. Wyeth painting Robin Meets Maid Marian).
Jump up ^ Bridwell, E. Nelson (w), Andru, Ross (p), Esposito, Mike (i). "The Ori
gin of Robin" Batman 213 (July August 1969), DC Comics
External links[edit]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Turdus migratorius.
Wikispecies has information related to: Turdus migratorius
Look up American robin in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikisource has the text of a 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article about A
merican robin.
FieldGuide eNature.com
"Robins of a Different Feather"
albinism in robins
Animal Facts natural history, maps, and photos at the Washington Nature Mapping
Journey North
"American robin media". Internet Bird Collection.
Sound file vivanatura.org
Plans for nesting shelves
Journey North

Nesting journal
Photo blog following the process from nest building to leaving t
he nest Webster's Wobbins
Florida bird sounds including the American robin Florida Museum of Natural Histo
American robin subspecies Turdus migratorius nigrideus (Aldrich and Nutt)
American robin growth progress with date stamp
American robin photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
Taxon identifiers
EoL: 1177506 GBIF: 2490765 ITIS: 179759 IUCN: 22708958 NCBI: 9188 Fossilworks: 8
3492 Fauna Europaea: 97236
Categories: IUCN Red List least concern speciesAnimals described in 1766Birds of
CanadaBirds of MexicoBirds of North AmericaBirds of the Greater AntillesBirds o
f the United StatesFauna of the San Francisco Bay AreaMigratory birds (Western H
emisphere)Native birds of AlaskaNorth American migratory birdsSymbols of Connect
icutSymbols of MichiganSymbols of WisconsinTurdusUrban animals
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