Our Wild Neighbors

American Robins

Turdus migratorius

A city dweller that arrives in spring

Image of three American Robins, mounted on a wooden base, seen in profile facing right.

Description of the animal

  • Breast orange-coloured, bordering on brick red.
  • Black head, grey back, yellow bill, and white eye-rings. In breeding season, the male Robin grows extra black feathers on its head, which are shed once the season is over.
  • The female resembles the male, but has duller colouring.
  • Length: 25 centimetres; weight: 77 grams. The American Robin is the largest member of the thrush family in North America.
  • Distinctive blue eggs.

Habitat and needs

  • Is the first bird to arrive in spring. The male establishes its territory before the female arrives. The pair often returns to the same location to nest, sometimes using the same nest. The female builds it from mud, grass, and twigs.
  • Usually sets twice a season, sometimes three times, in different nests. Fledglings stay in the nest for 13 to 16 days, but the parents continue to feed them for 30 days. Sometimes, the second clutch is started before the babies from the first one have left the nest. When this happens, the male cares for the fledglings from the first clutch.
  • Originally a forest bird, the Robin has become well adapted to populated regions. In Canada, it nests anywhere south of the boreal forest, except in marshes, dense forests, and peat bogs.
  • Eats earthworms and insects in spring, but switches to fruit in summer and fall.
  • Migrates, in most cases. During relatively mild winters, it may remain in Canada.
  • During nesting, will not tolerate the presence of any non-family member in its territory. Very territorial, the male sings several times a day to lay claim to locations.

Relationship

  • The Robin is often encountered. It is not very timid and feeds on lawns.
  • The Robin is one of the first birds to sing in the morning and one of the last to stop singing at night.
  • How it locates earthworms is intriguing. Scientists are asking themselves what sense the Robin uses to hunt, because it remains immobile, head down, bill pointed towards the ground.
  • The Robin can damage crops, but also plays an important role in controlling insect pests.

Living with them

  • The Robin detests cats, its worst enemy.
  • To attract the Robin to your yard:
  • Plant fruit trees.
  • Leave it a bit of lawn.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen