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American Robin
Adult
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Turdus
Species: T. migratorius
Binomial name
Turdus migratorius
Linnaeus, 1766
Synonyms

Merula migratoria

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius, also called North American Robin[2]) is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin[3] because of the male's bright red breast, though the two species are not closely related. The American Robin is widely distributed throughout North America, wintering south of Canada from Florida to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. It is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.[4] It has seven subspecies, but only T. m. confinis in the southwest 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 and caterpillars), fruits and berries. It is one of the first 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 feathers, and is smeared with mud and often cushioned with grass or other soft materials. It is among the first birds to sing at dawn, and its song consists of several discrete units that are repeated.

The adult robin is preyed upon by hawks, cats and larger snakes, but when feeding in flocks, it is able to be vigilant and watch other birds for reactions to predators. Brown-headed cowbirds lay eggs in robin nests (see brood parasite), but robins usually reject the cowbird eggs.

Contents

Taxonomy

This species was first described in 1766 by 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 term 'robin' for this species has been recorded since at least 1703.[6] There are about 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 of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene indicates that the American Robin is not part of the Central/South American clade of Turdus thrushes; instead it shows genetic 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 distinct 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 distribution, suggesting it recently spread northwards into North America.[10]

Seven subspecies of American Robin are recognized. These subspecies intergrade and are only weakly defined.[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 states to southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and northern Georgia. It is uniformly 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 Virginia 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 subspecies. The black feathers of the forehead and crown have pale gray tips. The underparts are paler than those of the nominate subspecies.[7]
  • T. m. caurinus breeds in southeast Alaska through coastal British Columbia to Washington and northwest Oregon. It winters from southwest British Columbia south to central and southern California and east to northern Idaho. It is very slightly smaller than the nominate subspecies and very dark-headed. The white on the tips of the outer two tail feathers is restricted.[7]
  • T. m. propinquus breeds from southeast British Columbia, southern Alberta, southwest Saskatchewan south to southern California and northern Baja California. It winters throughout much of the southern breeding range and south to Baja California. 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 any red below. Males are usually darker and may show pale or whitish sides to the head.[7]
  • T. m. confinis breeds above 1000 meters (3300 ft) in the highlands of southern Baja California. This form is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts. It is relatively small, and the palest subspecies, with uniform pale gray-brown on the head, face and upperparts. It usually lacks any white spots to the tips 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 other races.[11]
  • T. m. phillipsi is resident in Mexico south to central Oaxaca. It is slightly smaller than propinquus but has a larger bill; the male's underparts are less brick-red than the nominate subspecies, and have a rustier tone.[7]

Description

Juvenile

The nominate subspecies of the American Robin is 23–28 centimeters (10–11 in) long with a wingspan ranging from 31–41 centimeters (12.2–16 in), and averages about 77 grams (2.7 oz) in weight.[12] The head varies from jet black to gray, with white eye arcs and white supercilia.[13] The throat is white with black 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 orange.[12] The bill is mainly yellow with a variably dark tip, the dusky area becoming more extensive in winter, and the legs and feet are brown.[13]

The sexes are similar, but the female tends to be duller than the male, with a brown tint to the head, brown upperparts and less bright underparts. However, some birds cannot be safely sexed on plumage alone.[7] The juvenile is paler in color than the adult male and has dark spots on its breast,[12] and whitish wing coverts.[13] 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 or other feathers.[13]

Distribution and habitat

This bird breeds throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada southward to northern Florida and Mexico.[14] 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 well as along the Pacific Coast.[14] Most depart south by the end of August and begin to return north in February and March (exact dates vary with latitude and climate). Despite being depicted in the film Mary Poppins "feathering its nest" in London,[15] 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, migration was displaced eastwards leading to massive movements through the eastern US, and presumably this is what led to no fewer than three American Robins being found in Britain, with two attempting to overwinter in 2003–2004,[16] although one was taken by a Sparrowhawk.[17][18] The most recent sighting in Britain occurred in January 2007.[19]

This species has also occurred as a vagrant to Greenland, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Belize. Vagrants to Europe, where identified to subspecies, are nominate 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 urban areas. It breeds only rarely in the southern United States and there prefers large shade trees on lawns.[20] Its winter habitat is similar but includes more open areas.[7]

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Conservation status

The American Robin has an extensive range, estimated at 16 million square kilometers (6 million square miles), and a large population of about 320 million individuals. The species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), and is therefore evaluated as Least Concern.[1] At one point, the bird was killed for its meat, but it is now protected throughout its range in the United States by the Migratory Bird Act.[12]

Birds in central California of the subspecies propinquus are considered to be still increasing their range, and this is probably the case elsewhere in the U.S.A.[7]

Disease

The American Robin is a known reservoir (carrier) for West Nile Virus. While crows & 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 responsibility for the transmission of the virus to humans. This is because while crows & 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.[21][22]

Behavior

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 dense vegetation. The flocks break up during the day when the birds feed on fruits and berries in smaller groups. During the summer, the American Robin defends a breeding territory and is less social.[12]

Diet

American Robin with worms

The American Robin's diet generally consists of around 40 percent invertebrates, such as beetle grubs, caterpillars and grasshoppers, and 60 percent wild and cultivated fruits and berries.[12] They will flock to fermented Pyracantha berries, and in sufficient quantities will exhibit intoxicated behavior such as falling over while walking. It forages primarily on the ground for soft-bodied invertebrates, and finds worms by sight, pouncing on them and then pulling them up.[14] 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 beaches, taking insects and small mollusks.[7]

The Robin is frequently seen running across lawns, picking up earthworms by sight, and its running and stopping behavior is a distinguishing characteristic. It hunts visually, not by hearing.[14]

Threats

Juvenile Robins and eggs are preyed upon by squirrels, snakes and some birds, such as Blue Jays, Common Grackles, American Crows and Common Ravens.[12] Adults are primarily taken by hawks, cats and larger snakes, although when feeding in flocks, the American Robin is able to remain vigilant and watch other flock members for reactions to predators.[12]

The American Robin is known to be a rejecter of cowbird eggs, so brood parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird is rare. Even when it occurs, the parasite's chick does not normally survive to fledging.[23] In a study of 105 juvenile Robins, 77.1% were infected with one or more species of endoparasite, with Syngamus species the most commonly encountered, found in 57.1% of the birds.[24]

Breeding

The nest is about 13 cm (5 in) across.
A nest amidst human habitat in Bellevue,WA.

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 meters (5–15 ft) above the ground in a dense 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 materials. A new nest is built for each brood, and in northern areas the first clutch 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.[25]

Newly hatched chicks

A clutch consists of three to five light blue eggs, and is incubated by the female alone. The eggs hatch after 14 days, and chicks leave the nest a further two weeks later. All chicks in the brood leave the nest within two days of each other.[12] The altricial chicks are naked and have their eyes closed for the first few days after hatching.[26] While the chicks are still young, the mother broods them continuously. When they are older, the mother will brood them only at night or during bad weather. Even after leaving the nest, the juveniles will follow their parents around and beg food from them. Juveniles become capable of sustained flight two weeks after fledging.[12]

Chick

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 calls and dive-bombs predators, including domestic cats, dogs and humans that come near the young birds. The fledglings are able to fly short distances after leaving the nest. The wings of juvenile birds develop rapidly, and it only takes a couple of weeks for them to become proficient at flying. 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 average lifespan is about 2 years.[12]

Vocalization

The male American Robin, as with many thrushes, has a beautiful, complex and almost continuous song. Its song is commonly described as a cheerily carol, made up of discrete units, often repeated, and spliced together into a string with brief pauses in between.[20] The song varies regionally, and its style varies by time of day. The song period is from early March in California to late July or early August; some birds, particularly in the east, sing occasionally into September or later. The American Robin is often among the first songbirds singing as dawn rises, 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 subspecies, and lacks any clear notes.[7]

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

In addition to its song, the American Robin has a number of calls used for communicating specific information. When a ground predator approaches but does not directly threaten, Robins will make a PEEK!! tut tut tut tut... warning call, often preceded by an explosive seeech each-each-each. When a nest or Robin is being directly threatened, another he-he-he-he call is used, which sounds like a horse's whinny. Even during nesting season, when Robins exhibit mostly competitive and territorial behavior, they may still band together to drive away a predator.[7]

In culture

The American Robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.[4] It was also depicted on the 1986 Birds of Canada series Canadian $2 note, but this note has since been withdrawn.[27][28] Robin's egg blue is a color named after the bird's eggs.[6]

The Tlingit people of Northwestern North America held it to be a culture-hero created by Raven to please the people with its song.[29]

The Robin is considered a symbol of spring.[30] A well-known example is a poem by Emily Dickinson, "I Dreaded That First Robin So". Among other 19th-century poems about the first robin of spring is "The First Robin" by Dr. William H. Drummond, 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.[31]

American popular songs featuring this bird include "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along", written by Harry M. Woods[32] and a hit for Al Jolson 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 illustration of Robin Hood,[33] a later version had his mother nicknaming him Robin because he was born on the first day of spring.[34] His red shirt suggests the bird's red breast.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2004). Turdus migratorius. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ Reginald D. Manwell; Gloria J. Sessler. "Blood Parasites of Pekin Robins (Liothrix luteus)". Journal of Eurkaryotic Microbiology (Syracuse: Department of Biology, Syracuse University) 20 (3): p. 363. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119678048/PDFSTART. 
  3. ^ McCrum, Robert; William Cran, Robert MacNeil (1992). The Story of English. Faber and Faber. pp. 123. ISBN 0 571 16443 9. 
  4. ^ a b 50 States. "50 States". http://www.50states.com/bird/statelst.htm. Retrieved July 25, 2007. 
  5. ^ (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1766). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio duodecima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii).. pp. 292. 
  6. ^ a b J. Simpson, E. Weiner (eds), ed (1989). "Robin". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Clement, Peter; Hathway, Ren; Wilczur, Jan (2000). Thrushes (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-7136-3940-7. 
  8. ^ Qiao-Wa Pan; Fu-Min Lei; Zuo-Hua Yin; Anton Kristin & Peter Kaņuch (2007). "Phylogenetic relationships between Turdus species: Mitochondrial cytochrome b gene analysis". Ornis Fennica 84: 1–11. 
  9. ^ Klicka, John; Voelker, Gary; Spellman, Garth M. (2005). "A molecular phylogenetic analysis of the "true thrushes" (Aves: Turdinae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34 (3): 486–500. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.10.001. PMID 15683924. 
  10. ^ Voelker G, Rohwer S, Bowie RCK, Outlaw DC (2007). "Molecular systematics of a speciose,cosmopolitan songbird genus: Defining the limits of, and relationships among, the Turdus thrushes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42 (2): 422–34. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.07.016. PMID 16971142. 
  11. ^ "The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition" (PDF). AOU. http://www.aou.org/checklist/pdf/AOUchecklistPass-Mimidae.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Dewey, Tanya; Middleton, Candice (2002). "Turdus migratorius". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Turdus_migratorius.html. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  13. ^ a b c d Alderfer, John; Leukering (2006). Complete Birds of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. pp. 492. ISBN 0792241754. 
  14. ^ a b c d Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. "American Robin". http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/American_Robin_dtl.html. Retrieved 26 June 2007. 
  15. ^ "Mary Poppins (1964)". IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058331/goofs. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  16. ^ Rogers, Michael J.; and The Rarities Committee (December 2004). "Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2004". British Birds 98 (12): 628–694. 
  17. ^ "Twitchers watch robin served rare". BBC. 2004-03-09. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3545679.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  18. ^ "Review of the Week 18th–31st December 2003". Birdguides. http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=355. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  19. ^ "Village braced for invasion of twitchers as rare visitor flies in", John Roberts, Yorkshire Post, 26 January 2007
  20. ^ a b Bull J, Farrand, J Jr (1987). Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds:Eastern Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 469. ISBN 0-394-41405-5. 
  21. ^ National Science Foundation: West Nile Virus: The Search for Answers in Chicago’s Suburbs
  22. ^ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220191318.htm
  23. ^ Wolfe, Donald H., (December 1994). "Brown-headed Cowbirds fledged from Barn Swallow and American Robin nests.". The Wilson Bulletin 106 (4): 764–766. 
  24. ^ Welte, SC; Kirkpatrick CE. (Oct-December 1986). "Syngamiasis in juvenile American Robins (Turdus migratorius), with a note on the prevalence of other fecal parasites.". Avian Disease 30 (4): 736–9. doi:10.2307/1590578. 
  25. ^ "Backyard Birding Information - How to Attract Robins". The Ornate Bird Garden. http://www.ornatebirdgarden.com/html/robins.html. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  26. ^ "American Robin (Turdus migratorius)". International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. http://www.iwrc-online.org/kids/Facts/Birds/robin.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  27. ^ Canadian Paper Money Society. "Canadian Paper Money". http://www.cdnpapermoney.com/English/BoC/1986_2.htm. Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  28. ^ Bank of Canada. "1986 Birds of Canada Series". http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/banknotes/general/character/1986_2.html. Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  29. ^ Cooper, JC (1992). Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London: Aquarian Press. pp. 194. ISBN 1-85538-118-4. 
  30. ^ Durant, Alan; Fabb, Nigel (1995). Literary Studies in Action. Routledge. pp. 75. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZqAOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA75&dq=Robin+symbol+spring&lr=&ei=H5mjR5b2DYXUiwHYzqShCg&sig=IejZ7I7Ts5YxvTO0-hMKTkYpQH4. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  31. ^ Drummond, William Henry; Drummond, May Harvey (preface) (1908). The Great Fight. G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. xi, 81–86. http://books.google.com/books?id=qZYOAAAAIAAJ. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  32. ^ "Sheet music for "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along" - Ruth Etting". The Ruth Etting Web Site. 1997–2007. http://www.ruthetting.com/album/redredrobin.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-07.  Shows the cover of early sheet music.
  33. ^ Groth, Gary (15 October 2005). "Jerry Robinson". The Comics Journal (271). http://www.tcj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=350&Itemid=48. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  34. ^ Bridwell, E. Nelson (w), Andru, Ross (p), Esposito, Mike (i). "The Origin of Robin" Batman 1 (213) (July-August, 1969), DC Comics

External links


American Robin
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Turdus
Species: T. migratorius
Binomial name
Turdus migratorius
Linnaeus, 1766
File:American Robin-rangemap.gif
Synonyms

Merula migratoria

The American Robin or North American Robin[2] (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin[3] because of the male's bright red breast, though the two species are not closely related. The American Robin is widely distributed throughout North America, wintering south of Canada from Florida to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. It is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.[4] It has seven subspecies, but only T. m. confinis in the southwest 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 and caterpillars), fruits and berries. It is one of the first 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 feathers, and is smeared with mud and often cushioned with grass or other soft materials. It is among the first birds to sing at dawn, and its song consists of several discrete units that are repeated.

The adult robin is preyed upon by hawks, cats and larger snakes, but when feeding in flocks, it is able to be vigilant and watch other birds for reactions to predators. Brown-headed cowbirds lay eggs in robin nests (see brood parasite), but robins usually reject the cowbird eggs.

Contents

Taxonomy

This species was first described in 1766 by 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 term 'robin' for this species has been recorded since at least 1703.[6] There are about 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 of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene indicates that the American Robin is not part of the Central/South American clade of Turdus thrushes; instead it shows genetic 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 distinct 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 distribution, suggesting it recently spread northwards into North America.[10]

Seven subspecies of American Robin are recognized. These subspecies intergrade and are only weakly defined.[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 states to southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and northern Georgia. It is uniformly 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 Virginia 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 subspecies. The black feathers of the forehead and crown have pale gray tips. The underparts are paler than those of the nominate subspecies.[7]
  • T. m. caurinus breeds in southeast Alaska through coastal British Columbia to Washington and northwest Oregon. It winters from southwest British Columbia south to central and southern California and east to northern Idaho. It is very slightly smaller than the nominate subspecies and very dark-headed. The white on the tips of the outer two tail feathers is restricted.[7]
  • T. m. propinquus breeds from southeast British Columbia, southern Alberta, southwest Saskatchewan south to southern California and northern Baja California. It winters throughout much of the southern breeding range and south to Baja California. 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 any red below. Males are usually darker and may show pale or whitish sides to the head.[7]
  • T. m. confinis breeds above 1000 meters (3300 ft) in the highlands of southern Baja California. This form is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts. It is relatively small, and the palest subspecies, with uniform pale gray-brown on the head, face and upperparts. It usually lacks any white spots to the tips 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 other races.[11]
  • T. m. phillipsi is resident in Mexico south to central Oaxaca. It is slightly smaller than propinquus but has a larger bill; the male's underparts are less brick-red than the nominate subspecies, and have a rustier tone.[7]

Description

The nominate subspecies of the American Robin is 23–28 centimeters (10–11 in) long with a wingspan ranging from 31–41 centimeters (12.2–16 in), and averages about 77 grams (2.7 oz) in weight.[12] The head varies from jet black to gray, with white eye arcs and white supercilia.[13] The throat is white with black 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 orange.[12] The bill is mainly yellow with a variably dark tip, the dusky area becoming more extensive in winter, and the legs and feet are brown.[13]

The sexes are similar, but the female tends to be duller than the male, with a brown tint to the head, brown upperparts and less bright underparts. However, some birds cannot be safely sexed on plumage alone.[7] The juvenile is paler in color than the adult male and has dark spots on its breast,[12] and whitish wing coverts.[13] 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 or other feathers.[13]

Distribution and habitat

This bird breeds throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada southward to northern Florida and Mexico.[14] 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 well as along the Pacific Coast.[14] Most depart south by the end of August and begin to return north in February and March (exact dates vary with latitude and climate). Despite being depicted in the film Mary Poppins "feathering its nest" in London,[15] 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, migration was displaced eastwards leading to massive movements through the eastern US, and presumably this is what led to no fewer than three American Robins being found in Britain, with two attempting to overwinter in 2003–2004,[16] although one was taken by a Sparrowhawk.[17][18] The most recent sighting in Britain occurred in January 2007.[19]

This species has also occurred as a vagrant to Greenland, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Belize. Vagrants to Europe, where identified to subspecies, are nominate 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 urban areas. It breeds only rarely in the southern United States and there prefers large shade trees on lawns.[20] Its winter habitat is similar but includes more open areas.[7]

Conservation status

The American Robin has an extensive range, estimated at 16 million square kilometers (6 million square miles), and a large population of about 320 million individuals. The species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), and is therefore evaluated as Least Concern.[1] At one point, the bird was killed for its meat, but it is now protected throughout its range in the United States by the Migratory Bird Act.[12]

Birds in central California of the subspecies propinquus are considered to be still increasing their range, and this is probably the case elsewhere in the U.S.A.[7]

Disease

The American Robin is a known reservoir (carrier) for West Nile virus. While crows 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 responsibility for the transmission of the virus to humans. This is because while crows and 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.[21][22]

Behavior

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 dense vegetation. The flocks break up during the day when the birds feed on fruits and berries in smaller groups. During the summer, the American Robin defends a breeding territory and is less social.[12]

Diet

File:Robin eating a worm in
American Robin with a worm

The American Robin's diet generally consists of around 40 percent invertebrates, such as beetle grubs, caterpillars and grasshoppers, and 60 percent wild and cultivated fruits and berries.[12] They will flock to fermented Pyracantha berries, and in sufficient quantities will exhibit intoxicated behavior such as falling over while walking. It forages primarily on the ground for soft-bodied invertebrates, and finds worms by sight, pouncing on them and then pulling them up.[14] 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 beaches, taking insects and small mollusks.[7]

The Robin is frequently seen running across lawns, picking up earthworms by sight, and its running and stopping behavior is a distinguishing characteristic. It hunts visually, not by hearing.[14]

Threats

Juvenile Robins and eggs are preyed upon by squirrels, snakes and some birds, such as Blue Jays, Common Grackles, American Crows and Common Ravens.[12] Adults are primarily taken by hawks, cats and larger snakes, although when feeding in flocks, the American Robin is able to remain vigilant and watch other flock members for reactions to predators.[12]

The American Robin is known to be a rejecter of cowbird eggs, so brood parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird is rare. Even when it occurs, the parasite's chick does not normally survive to fledging.[23] In a study of 105 juvenile Robins, 77.1% were infected with one or more species of endoparasite, with Syngamus species the most commonly encountered, found in 57.1% of the birds.[24]

Breeding

[[File:|The nest is about 13 cm (5 in) across.|right|thumb]]

File:American Robin
A nest amidst human habitat in Bellevue,WA.

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 meters (5–15 ft) above the ground in a dense 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 materials. A new nest is built for each brood, and in northern areas the first clutch 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.[25]

File:AmericanRobinChicksInNest
Newly hatched chicks

A clutch consists of three to five light blue eggs, and is incubated by the female alone. The eggs hatch after 14 days, and the chicks leave the nest a further two weeks later. All chicks in the brood leave the nest within two days of each other.[12] The altricial chicks are naked and have their eyes closed for the first few days after hatching.[26] While the chicks are still young, the mother broods them continuously. When they are older, the mother will brood them only at night or during bad weather. Even after leaving the nest, the juveniles will follow their 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 calls and dive-bombs predators, including domestic cats, dogs and humans that come near the young birds. The fledglings are able to fly short distances after leaving the nest. The wings of juvenile birds develop rapidly, and it only takes a couple of weeks for them to become proficient at flying. 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 average lifespan is about 2 years.[12]

Vocalization

The male American Robin, as with many thrushes, has a complex and almost continuous song. Its song is commonly described as a cheerily carol, made up of discrete units, often repeated, and spliced together into a string with brief pauses in between.[20] The song varies regionally, and its style varies by time of day. The song period is from early March in California to late July or early August; some 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 hours 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 subspecies, and lacks any clear notes.[7]

In addition to its song, the American Robin has a number of calls used for communicating specific information. When a ground predator approaches but does not directly threaten, Robins will make a PEEK!! tut tut tut tut... warning call, often preceded by an explosive seeech each-each-each. When a nest or Robin is being directly threatened, another he-he-he-he call is used, which sounds like a horse's whinny. Even during nesting season, when Robins exhibit mostly competitive and territorial behavior, they may still band together to drive away a predator.[7]

In culture

The American Robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.[4] It was also depicted on the 1986 Birds of Canada series Canadian $2 note, but this note has since been withdrawn.[27][28] Robin's egg blue is a color named after the bird's eggs.[6]

The Tlingit people of Northwestern North America held it to be a culture-hero created by Raven to please the people with its song.[29]

One of the Houses of the Raven Tribe from the Nisga'a Nation holds the Robin as a House Crest.

The Robin is considered a symbol of spring.[30] A well-known example is a poem by Emily Dickinson, "I Dreaded That First Robin So". Among other 19th-century poems about the first robin of spring is "The First Robin" by Dr. William H. Drummond, 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.[31]

American popular songs featuring this bird include "When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)", written by Harry M. Woods[32] and a hit for Al Jolson 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 illustration of Robin Hood,[33] a later version had his mother nicknaming him Robin because he was born on the first day of spring.[34] His red shirt suggests the bird's red breast.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2004). Turdus migratorius. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ Reginald D. Manwell; Gloria J. Sessler. "Blood Parasites of Pekin Robins (Liothrix luteus)". Journal of Eurkaryotic Microbiology (Syracuse: Department of Biology, Syracuse University) 20 (3): p. 363. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119678048/PDFSTART. 
  3. ^ McCrum, Robert; William Cran, Robert MacNeil (1992). The Story of English. Faber and Faber. pp. 123. ISBN 0 571 16443 9. 
  4. ^ a b 50 States. "50 States". http://www.50states.com/bird/statelst.htm. Retrieved July 25, 2007. 
  5. ^ (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1766). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio duodecima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii).. pp. 292. 
  6. ^ a b J. Simpson, E. Weiner (eds), ed (1989). "Robin". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Clement, Peter; Hathway, Ren; Wilczur, Jan (2000). Thrushes (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-7136-3940-7. 
  8. ^ Qiao-Wa Pan; Fu-Min Lei; Zuo-Hua Yin; Anton Kristin & Peter Kaņuch (2007). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Phylogenetic relationships between Turdus species: Mitochondrial cytochrome b gene analysis"]. Ornis Fennica 84: 1–11. 
  9. ^ Klicka, John; Voelker, Gary; Spellman, Garth M. (2005). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "A molecular phylogenetic analysis of the "true thrushes" (Aves: Turdinae)"]. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34 (3): 486–500. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.10.001. PMID 15683924. 
  10. ^ Voelker G, Rohwer S, Bowie RCK, Outlaw DC (2007). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Molecular systematics of a speciose,cosmopolitan songbird genus: Defining the limits of, and relationships among, the Turdus thrushes"]. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42 (2): 422–34. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.07.016. PMID 16971142. 
  11. ^ "The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition" (PDF). AOU. http://www.aou.org/checklist/pdf/AOUchecklistPass-Mimidae.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Dewey, Tanya; Middleton, Candice (2002). "Turdus migratorius". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Turdus_migratorius.html. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  13. ^ a b c d Alderfer, John; Leukering (2006). Complete Birds of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. pp. 492. ISBN 0792241754. 
  14. ^ a b c d Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. "American Robin". http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/American_Robin_dtl.html. Retrieved 26 June 2007. 
  15. ^ "Mary Poppins (1964)". IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058331/goofs. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  16. ^ Rogers, Michael J.; and The Rarities Committee (December 2004). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2004"]. British Birds 98 (12): 628–694. 
  17. ^ "Twitchers watch robin served rare". BBC. 2004-03-09. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3545679.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  18. ^ "Review of the Week 18th–31st December 2003". BirdGuides. http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=355. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  19. ^ "Village braced for invasion of twitchers as rare visitor flies in", John Roberts, Yorkshire Post, 26 January 2007
  20. ^ a b Bull J, Farrand, J Jr (1987). Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds:Eastern Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 469. ISBN 0-394-41405-5. 
  21. ^ National Science Foundation: West Nile Virus: The Search for Answers in Chicago’s Suburbs
  22. ^ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220191318.htm
  23. ^ Wolfe, Donald H., (December 1994). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Brown-headed Cowbirds fledged from Barn Swallow and American Robin nests."]. The Wilson Bulletin 106 (4): 764–766. 
  24. ^ Welte, SC; Kirkpatrick CE. (Oct-December 1986). "Syngamiasis in juvenile American Robins (Turdus migratorius), with a note on the prevalence of other fecal parasites.". Avian Disease (American Association of Avian Pathologists, Inc.) 30 (4): 736–9. doi:10.2307/1590578. http://jstor.org/stable/1590578. 
  25. ^ "Backyard Birding Information - How to Attract Robins". The Ornate Bird Garden. http://www.ornatebirdgarden.com/html/robins.html. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  26. ^ "American Robin (Turdus migratorius)". International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. http://www.iwrc-online.org/kids/Facts/Birds/robin.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  27. ^ Canadian Paper Money Society. "Canadian Paper Money". http://www.cdnpapermoney.com/English/BoC/1986_2.htm. Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  28. ^ Bank of Canada. "1986 Birds of Canada Series". http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/banknotes/general/character/1986_2.html. Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  29. ^ Cooper, JC (1992). Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London: Aquarian Press. pp. 194. ISBN 1-85538-118-4. 
  30. ^ Durant, Alan; Fabb, Nigel (1990). Literary Studies in Action. Routledge. pp. 75. ISBN 9780415029452. http://books.google.com/?id=ZqAOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA75&dq=Robin+symbol+spring. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  31. ^ Drummond, William Henry; Drummond, May Harvey (preface) (1908). The Great Fight. G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. xi, 81–86. http://books.google.com/?id=qZYOAAAAIAAJ. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  32. ^ "Sheet music for "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along" - Ruth Etting". The Ruth Etting Web Site. 1997–2007. http://www.ruthetting.com/album/redredrobin.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-07.  Shows the cover of early sheet music.
  33. ^ Groth, Gary (15 October 2005). "Jerry Robinson". The Comics Journal (271). http://www.tcj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=350&Itemid=48. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  34. ^ Bridwell, E. Nelson (w), Andru, Ross (p), Esposito, Mike (i). "The Origin of Robin" Batman 1 (213) (July–August, 1969), DC Comics

External links


Simple English

American Robin
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Turdus
Species: T. migratorius
Binomial name
Turdus migratorius
Linnaeus, 1766
"in America septentrionali"
File:American Robin-rangemap.gif

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird. It is also known as the North American Robin.[2] It belongs in the thrush family, Turdidae. It was named after the European Robin. This is because the European Robin has a bright orange-red face and breast. The two species are not closely related.[3] The American Robin has seven subspecies. T. m. confinis is the most different subspecies.[4]

The American Robin lives throughout North America. It is a rare vagrant to western Europe (a vagrant is a bird that is found outside its normal species' range). It has also been a vagrant to Greenland, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Belize.[4] The American Robin can be found in many different kinds of habitats.[5] It likes open areas of ground to feed and areas with trees or shrubs to breed and sleep.[6] Because it has a large range, the IUCN Red List says that the American Robin will not decline, and is listed as Least Concern.[1]

The American Robin begins to breed shortly after returning to northern North America after spending the winter in the south.[6] The female will choose where to build the nest. She will make the nest with grass, sticks, paper, feathers, rootlets, and moss. Once the nest is built, she will lay 3 to 5 eggs.[5] After the chicks leave the nest, both parents will continue to take care of them, until they can live on their own.[6]

American Robin eggs and juveniles are eaten by squirrels, snakes, Blue Jays, Common Grackles, American Crows, and Common Ravens. The adults are eaten by hawks, cats, and larger snakes.[6] Sometimes, the Brown-headed Cowbird lays its eggs in the Robin's nest. This is called brood parasitism. However, the Robin usually rejects the cowbird eggs.[7]

Contents

Etymology

This species was first described in 1766 by Linnaeus. It was described in the twelfth edition of his Systema naturae. He called it Turdus migratorius.[8] This name (called a binomial name) comes from two Latin words. The first word, Turdus, means "thrush". The second word, migratorius, comes from migrare which means "to go". The term 'robin' has been recorded and used for this species since 1703.[9]

Description

File:Immature
Juvenile

The American Robin is large songbird. It has a round body. Its legs are long. It has a long tail.[5] It has a long, yellow bill.[10] It is dark gray-brown on its head, back, wings, and tail. It has an orange-red breast. There is a white patch on the underside of the belly, near the tail. This can be seen when it is flying.[5] American Robins that live in western North America are very pale (pale means light in color). American Robins that live in eastern Canada are very bright.[5] They have a white throat. It has black stripes in it.[6] Females have lighter gray-brown heads than males.[5] They also have lighter orange-red breasts.[4] A young American Robin (called a juvenile) is also lighter than the male. It has dark spots on its breast.[6] Both sexes are 20–28 cm (7.9–11 in) long. They have a wingspan of 31–40 cm (12.2–15.7 in).[5] American Robins that live in western North America are very pale. American Robins that live in eastern Canada are very bright.[5]

The American Robin was named after the European Robin. This is because the European Robin has a bright orange-red face and breast. The two species are not closely related.[3]

Subspecies

The American Robin has seven subspecies. They are very hard to tell apart. The different subspecies will breed with each other.

  • T. m. nigrideus breeds from along the coast in northern Quebec to Labrador and Newfoundland. It winters from southern Newfoundland south through most of the eastern United States to southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and northern Georgia. It is mostly dark or blackish on the head. It has a dark gray back. The breast is a little more red than the breast of the main subspecies.[4]
  • T. m. achrusterus breeds from southern Oklahoma east to Maryland and south to northern Florida and the Gulf states. It winters in most of its southern breeding range. It is smaller than the main subspecies. The black feathers on the front of the head and top of the head have light gray tips. The breast is lighter than the breast of the main subspecies.[4]
  • T. m. caurinus breeds in southeast Alaska through the coast of British Columbia to Washington and northwest Oregon. It winters from southwest British Columbia south to central and southern California and east to northern Idaho. It is a little smaller than the main subspecies. It has a very dark head. There is very little white on the tips of the outer two tail feathers.[4]
  • T. m. propinquus breeds from southeast British Columbia, southern Alberta, southwest Saskatchewan south to southern California and northern Baja California. It winters in much of the southern breeding range. It is the about the same size as or a little larger than main subspecies. It is lighter and is much more of a brownish-gray color. It has very little white on the tip of the outer tail feathers. Some T. m. propinquus birds do not have any orange-red on the breast. This is probably more common in females. Males are usually darker. They may show light or whitish sides to the head.[4]
  • T. m. confinis breeds above 1000 meters (3300 ft) in the highlands of southern Baja California. This form is very different. It has a light gray-brown breast. It is very small. It is the lightest subspecies. It has a light gray-brown head, face, back, wings, and tail. It usually does not have any white spots on the tips of the outer tail feathers. It is sometimes considered a separate species, the San Lucas Robin[4]. But the American Ornithologists' Union considers it as only a subspecies.[11]
  • T. m. phillipsi is found in Mexico south to central Oaxaca. It is a little smaller than propinquus. It has a larger bill. The male's breast is more of a rusty color than the main subspecies.[4]

Range and distribution

The American Robin can be found all over North America. It is found from Alaska and Canada south to Mexico.[5] Most American Robins winter in Florida and the Gulf States to Mexico to the Pacific Coast. They will sometimes winter in southern Canada and the northern United States.[6]

The American Robin is a rare vagrant to western Europe. Most of the American Robins have been found in Britain.[4] The most recent sighting of an American Robin in Britain was in January 2007.[12] It has also been a vagrant to Greenland, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Belize.[4]

Habitat

American Robins are found in many different kinds of habitats. Some of them are gardens, parks, yards, fields, pastures, tundra, woodlands, pine forests, and shrublands.[5] They like open areas of ground to feed. They like areas with trees or shrubs to breed and sleep.[6]

Status

The American Robin has a large range. It is estimated that its range is 16 million square kilometers (6 million square miles). It is also estimated that there are about 320 million individual American Robins. The IUCN Red List says that the species is not believed to reach the threat of decline. It is therefor considered Least Concern.[1]

American Robins used to be killed for their meat.[6] They were killed in the southern states. The meat was thought as a very good food. The American Robin is now protected in the United State by the Migratory Bird Act.[6]

Behavior

File:Turdus migratorius with worms
American Robin eating worms

The American Robin is most active during the day. During the winter, it groups together in large flocks at night. They sleep together in thick vegetation. During the day, these large winter flocks break up into smaller flocks. They feed in these smaller flocks. During the summer, American Robins are less social. This is because they are defending their breeding territories.[6]

Juvenile Robins spend their first four months of life near their nesting place. They then flock together with other American Robins before they migrate to their wintering places.[6]

Diet

The American Robin eats invertebrates. In the spring, they like to eat earthworms and snails.[5] Some other invertebrates that American Robins eat are beetles, grubs, and caterpillars. It will also eat fruits and berries. Some kinds of berries that they like to eat are chokecherries, hawthorn berries, dogwood berries, sumac fruits, and juniper berries.[5]

Breeding

[[File:|thumb|Nest with eggs]]

File:AmericanRobinChicksInNest
Newly hatched chicks

The American Robin begins to breed shortly after returning to northern North America after spending the winter in the south. It is one of the first North American birds to lay eggs. It has two to three broods (a brood is a group of offspring) each breeding season. The breeding season starts in April and ends in July.[6] It is one of the first birds to sing at dawn. Its song is made up of several small groups of sounds that are repeated.

Nest

The female chooses where to make the nest. She will usually make the nest on one or many branches that are hidden in leaves. In the west, the female will make the nest on the ground or in thickets. In Alaska, the female will make the nest on a cliff.[5] The female makes the nest. She starts with the inside. She uses grass and sticks to make a cup-shaped center. Other things that the female will use are paper, feathers, rootlets, and moss. After the center is done, she uses mud on the outside of the nest to make it stronger. She then puts soft grass in the cup. The nest is usually 15.2 to 20.3 cm (6 to 8 in) long. It is 7.6 to 15.2 cm high (3 to 6 in).[5]

Eggs and young

The female will lay 3 to 5 eggs in the nest. They are blue or blue-green. They are 2.8 to 3cm (1.1 to 1.2 in) long. They are 2.1 cm (0.8 in) wide.[5] Only the female incubates the eggs (incubate means that the adult will sit on the eggs and keep them warm and help the babies inside grow).[6] It takes 12 to 14 days for the eggs to hatch.[5]

For the first few days, the chicks have no feathers and their eyes are closed.[13] The young live in the nest for about 13 days.[5] As the chicks grow older, the female will protect them only at night and during bad weather. After the juveniles leave the nest, they will follow their parents around and beg them for food.[6]

Both parents help feed and protect the fledged (fledged means a young bird that has just learned how to fly) juveniles until they can live on their own. The adults will give an alarm call to warn the juveniles that there is a predator near by. The parents will then attack the predator. Some of the predators they will attack are cats and dogs. They will even go after humans if the human gets close to their young. Fledged juveniles are only able to fly short distances. The coloring of the juveniles helps them hide better in bushes or trees. This kind of coloring is called camouflage.[6]

Bird banders have found that only 25% of juvenile American Robins live through their first year. The average life of an American Robin lasts about 2 years. The longest known lifespan of a wild American Robin is 14 years.[6]

Threats

Predators

Eggs and juvenile Robins that still live in the nest are eaten by squirrels and snakes. Some birds also eat eggs and juvenile Robins. These birds are Blue Jays, Common Grackles, American Crows, and Common Ravens. The adult American Robin is eaten by hawks, cats, and larger snakes. When feeding together in flocks, American Robins will watch each other for signs of predators. If a predator is seen, they will make a warning call.[6] Sometimes, the Brown-headed Cowbird lays its eggs in the Robin's nest. This is called brood parasitism. The Robin usually rejects the cowbird eggs. Because of this, brood parasitism by the cowbird is rare.[7]

Disease

The American Robin is known to carry a disease called the West Nile Virus. This disease comes from mosquitoes. Crows and jays are the first to die from this disease. The American Robin is more responsible for the transmission of the disease to humans. This is because the American Robin lives longer with the disease than the crows and jays. This allows the American Robin to spread the disease to more mosquitoes which then spread the disease to humans and other animals.[14][15]

In culture

The American Robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.[16] It was also shown on a 1986 Canadian $2 note, but it is no longer on the bill.[17][18]

There is color named after the American Robin's eggs. It is called Robin's egg blue.[9]

The Robin is considered a symbol of spring.[19] A good example is a poem by Emily Dickinson. It is called "I Dreaded That First Robin So". There are other poems about the first robin of spring. One of them is "The First Robin" by Dr. William H. Drummond. According to the author's wife, it is based on a Quebec false belief. The belief says that whoever sees the first robin of spring will have good luck.[20]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 BirdLife International (2004). Turdus migratorius. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. Manwell, Gloria J.; Sessler, "Blood Parasites of Pekin Robins (Liothrix luteus)", Journal of Eurkaryotic Microbiology (Syracuse: Department of Biology, Syracuse University) 20 (3): 363, http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119678048/PDFSTART 
  3. 3.0 3.1 McCrum, Robert; William Cran, Robert MacNeil (1992). The Story of English. Faber and Faber. pp. 123. ISBN 0 571 16443 9. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Clement, Peter; Hathway, Ren; Wilczur, Jan (2000). Thrushes (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-7136-3940-7
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 "American Robin". The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_robin/id. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 Dewey, Tanya; Middleton, Candice (2002). "Turdus migratorius". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Turdus_migratorius.html. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wolfe, Donald H. (December 1994), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Brown-headed Cowbirds fledged from Barn Swallow and American Robin nests"], The Wilson Bulletin 106 (4): 764–766 
  8. (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1766). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio duodecima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). pp. 292. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 J. Simpson, E. Weiner (eds), ed (1989). "Robin". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition ed.). Oxford:Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.
  10. "American robin Turdus migratorius". U.S. Geological Survey. http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/infocenter/i7610id.html. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  11. "The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition" (PDF). AOU. http://www.aou.org/checklist/pdf/AOUchecklistPass-Mimidae.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  12. "Village braced for invasion of twitchers as rare visitor flies in", John Roberts, Yorkshire Post, 26 January 2007
  13. "American Robin (Turdus migratorius)". International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. http://www.iwrc-online.org/kids/Facts/Birds/robin.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  14. National Science Foundation: West Nile Virus: The Search for Answers in Chicago’s Suburbs
  15. "Diversity Of Birds Buffer Against West Nile Virus". Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220191318.htm. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  16. 50 States. "50 States". http://www.50states.com/bird/statelst.htm. Retrieved July 25, 2007. 
  17. Canadian Paper Money Society. "Canadian Paper Money". http://www.cdnpapermoney.com/English/BoC/1986_2.htm. Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  18. Bank of Canada. "1986 Birds of Canada Series". http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/banknotes/general/character/1986_2.html. Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  19. Durant, Alan; Fabb, Nigel (1995). Literary Studies in Action. Routledge. pp. 75. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZqAOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA75&dq=Robin+symbol+spring&lr=&ei=H5mjR5b2DYXUiwHYzqShCg&sig=IejZ7I7Ts5YxvTO0-hMKTkYpQH4. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  20. Drummond, William Henry; Drummond, May Harvey (preface) (1908). The Great Fight. G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. xi, 81–86. http://books.google.com/books?id=qZYOAAAAIAAJ. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
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Look up Turdus migratorius in Wikispecies, a directory of species

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