American Robin



Common Name: American Robin

Class:  Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Turdidae

Genus: Turdus

Species: Turdus migratorius

Photo: M. Noonan



The American Robin is part of the Turdidae family that includes thrushes like the Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush and Eastern Bluebird. Like many thrushes the robin has a broad body and strong legs for walking/jumping. This bird has a black/grey back, black head with a red breast and they also have a long yellow bill to assist in foraging and also a conspicuous broken eyering. Females generally are duller in color than the male although some are dark enough to be indistinguishable from males. Immature American Robins lack a full red breast and instead have streaks, making them look like other thrushes.

Photo: M. Noonan



American Robins are mostly seen in open grassy habitats with little vegetation, preferring tended lawns where it is easy for them to forage. They are also occasionally seen near bodies of water. American Robins are migratory in Western New York generally migrating down to Mexico or the southern United States where they will spend the winter. Although many of them leave it is possible to still see robins in western New York during the winter when some individuals did not leave for the south. To forage for food, robins are routinely seen hopping along on the ground and cocking their head to stare at the ground in front of them to locate their prey. They mainly consume earthworms and also eat large insects and small fruits.


Photo: M. Noonan



American Robins are one of the easiest birds to observe because their habitats are near our homes. These birds are generally found to be gregarious, meaning they travel in groups, especially late in the breeding season when there are many fledglings. During the breeding season however, they do not tolerate other robins in their territory, especially male robins. Males will intimidate one another by running toward their opponent repeatedly, to make them leave the area.  Also, robins maintain territory during the year commonly by singing for long periods of time especially during daybreak and dusk. After male and female robins have pair bonded the female will slowly start to make the nest which may take up to a week to construct depending on the availability of mud, twigs and dry grass. Eggs are laid shortly after the finishing the construction of the nest and the female will stay on the eggs to incubate them. Young are hatched in about 12 days and they are atricial meaning they have no feathers, they cannot use their eyes and they cannot move very well except their head to accept food from parents. The young birds will fledge 13 days after hatching and their parents will accompany them for around three weeks after fledging.


American Robins are aggressive birds especially when predators are threatening them or their young. They will usually mob animals like Blue Jays and snakes that come close to their nest. With larger predators, like the Screech Owl their behaviors are more varied. The robin will occasionally mob a small owl but it may also silently or loudly approach the owl. It has been seen that there is an increased chance of a robin mobbing and attacking a predator when the predator is found in it's territory or they are near the robin's chicks.


Photo: M. Noonan



American Robins can be seen anywhere where there is plenty of open space and short vegetation. They are most often seen in urban and suburban areas where there is plenty of green space. Robins have been known to flock to areas that have just been mowed so it it easier for them to forage for food.



Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.