American Robin

Turdus migratorius

american-robin.jpg

american robin
MDC Staff
Family

Turdidae (thrushes) in the order Passeriformes

Description

Mature American robins have grayish-brown upperparts with a blackish head and a split white eye ring. The underparts are rich rusty red with white under the tail feathers. The female is paler than the male. The blackish throat is streaked with white. Juveniles are much like the adults, only heavily spotted with brown. The melodious song consists of a variety of three-note phrases strung together, sometimes seemingly endlessly. Calls include a “Pick! Tut-tut-tut.”

Size

Length: 10 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).

FG-0066_Robin_American.mp4

Video of American robin in the wild.

American Robin

Audio of American robin in the wild.

Robin nest.jpg

Robin nest
Robin nest

American robin eggs.jpg

American robin eggs
American robin eggs
Habitat and conservation

Robins live in yards and other grassy places where they forage on the ground for earthworms; they are easily observed as they sing and call from trees, power lines and rooftops. Formerly killed for its meat, this species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the 1900 Lacey Act. It is also the species most memorable from Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which illustrated how insect-eating birds can be killed indirectly from poisons intended for plant-eating insects.

Foods

American robins forage on the ground for earthworms, grubs and other insects, fruits and berries. They commonly run and stop, cock their head and pull earthworms from the ground.

image of American Robin Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

Common summer resident.

Life cycle

Robins breed across North America, migrating northward from areas south of Canada in spring and migrating back south as far as southern Mexico in fall. Robins are found in Missouri year-round. They breed as soon as they arrive in spring, building nests of mud, grasses and twigs; there are usually 3-5 blue eggs per clutch, and usually 2-3 broods per season. The naked, helpless chicks hatch in 14 days; they fledge 14 days later but still require their parents’ help.

Human connections

As a cherished symbol of springtime, the robin’s value to the human spirit is reflected in poetry and song. Because they often build nests that are easily seen, robins are loved by bird watchers and children. Robins also busily devour grubs whose feeding can disfigure manicured lawns.

Ecosystem connections

Robins eat many insects, helping to keep their populations in check. Young robins and eggs are eaten by many predator species, and adults are taken by others. The warning calls robins make when predators approach serve to alert other birds, who undoubtedly benefit from the robins’ vigilance.