Beloved for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter, the American Robin has been featured in songs, folklore, and paintings. This species is the state bird of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Connecticut and has been described as “America’s favorite songbird.” It was given its name by the early settlers, who thought that, with its reddish breast, it resembled the English Robin. However, the American Robin is not actually a robin at all, but a thrush, and except for the color of its breast, it does not look like the small, brown European bird.
The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) can be found over much of North America-in towns, villages, and cities; on lawns, farms, and forests. In the winter, they gather in large flocks, sometimes with thousands of others, and they set up camp in wooded areas where trees or shrubs have good crops for berries. In summers they live almost anywhere: wherever there are trees for nesting and mud for nest materials. You’ll find them in urban areas, as well as in more wild places like woodlands, forests, mountainous regions all the way up to near the tree line, recently burned forests, and tundra.
While this popular bird can be found almost anywhere, their abundance does not make them any less beautiful. Typically identified by its warm, orange breast, the American Robin is easily recognizable. They have rounded bodies, long legs, and a fairly long tail. The adults are brownish-grey above with rich, orange under parts and a black and white streaked throat. The male and female look surprisingly similar, although if you look closely, the female is a bit duller than the male.
Even if you happen to miss its rich colors, there is little chance you won’t hear this bird’s majestic song. Some say it sounds almost like laughter, the American Robin’s song is said to mark the end of winter and the onset of spring. Whether they are heralding spring or jeering at one another, these cheery birds seem to always be singing. This species is usually one of the first birds to start singing in the morning and one of the last to sing in the evening.
The American Robin’s sweet song can only be rivaled by this bird’s sweet tooth. Fruits, berries, sweet cakes, and even pastry dough are some of their favorite treats. Their love of all things sweet often makes them a little bit reckless. Robins have been known to go slightly overboard with their fruit intake, and sometimes will flock to fermented berries. When ingesting large quantities, they can become quite inebriated and will exhibit behaviors such as falling over while walking. In these instances, their cheery disposition may be a result of their alcoholic intake, rather than the coming of spring.
Whether you spot these birds at the end of a long winter or you see them making a nest on your porch, an American Robin sighting, while not a rare occurrence, is always a delight.