Colour/color digital painting by J. McCombie.
The American Robin (Turdus migratorius), also known as the Robin or Common Robin, is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the flycatcher family. 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. According to some sources, the American Robin ranks behind only the Red-winged Blackbird (and just ahead of the introduced European Starling) as the most abundant, extant land bird in North America. 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, 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 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 can 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.
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.
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. The American Robin does not shy away from nesting close to human habitation.
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. The altricial chicks are naked and have their eyes closed for the first few days after hatching. 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.