Features: The American Robin is 25-28 cm (10-11 in) long. It has gray upperparts and head, and orange underparts, usually brighter in the male; the similar appearance of the American Robin and the unrelated European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) led to their common name. There are seven races, but only T. m. confinus in the southwest
is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-
Little Black Feathers: During the breeding season, adult male robins grow black feathers on their heads; after the breeding season they lose this eye-catching plumage.
Breeding Range: The American Robin breeds throughout Canada and the United States. While Robins occasionally overwinter in northern United States and southern Canada, most winter in the southern parts of the breeding range and beyond, from the southern U.S.A. to Guatemala.
Robin Song: The American Robin, like many thrushes, has a beautiful and complex song, and in contrast to other thrushes, its song is almost continuous. Its song is commonly described as a cheerily carol song. The song is made of discrete units, often repeated, and spliced together into a string with brief pauses in between. The song varies regionally, and its style varies by time of day. American Robins will often be among the last songbirds singing as the evening sets in.
Sound the Alarms! 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. When a nest or Robin is being directly threatened, another call is used, which sounds like a horse's whinny. Even during nesting season, when Robins exhibit mostly competitive and territorial behaviour, they may still band together to drive away a predator. Robins also make a very high-pitched sound when a hawk or other bird of prey is seen; other robins will repeat the sound, seek cover, and stop moving. During the colder parts of the year, American Robins gather in flocks around food sources, and there is yet another call that is heard in such flocks.
Habitat: The American Robin's habitat includes many types of woodland and open farmland and urban areas. They eat the typical thrush mixture of insects, earthworms, and berries. Robins are frequently seen running across lawns, picking up earthworms by sight or sound.
As with many migratory birds, the males return to the summer breeding grounds before the females and compete with each other for nesting sites. The females then select mates based on the males' songs, plumage, and territory quality. The females build the nest and lay three or four blue eggs in the lined cup. Incubation, almost entirely by the female, is 11-14 days long. The chicks learn to fly in 15-16 days. Two broods in a season are common.
An American in Britain: This species is a very rare visitor to western Europe. In autumn 2003, migration was displaced eastwards leading to massive movements through the eastern USA. Presumably this is what led to no fewer than three American Robins being found in Great Britain, with two attempting to overwinter in 2003-4, one eventually being taken by a Sparrowhawk.
West Nile Virus: Without showing symptoms, the American Robin is sometimes a carrier of the West Nile virus in the Western hemisphere.
* Crayola has a crayon color, robin's egg blue, named after the color of the eggs.
* The American Robin was depicted on the 1986 series Canadian $2 note.
* The Disney film Mary Poppins, set in London, incorrectly portrayed American Robins singing by an open window, despite the fact that the European Robin is the only type of robin to be commonly found in the United Kingdom.
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