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The robin has become the national symbol of Spring's arrival. This unique and strong bird has survived for centuries, due in large part to their incredible intelligence, resourcefulness and migrating skills.

HISTORY
The robin is a direct relative of the thrush family, which explains its brightly colored chest. Robins have survived in New Guinea, parts of Europe, and throughout almost all of the United States for centuries. The American Robin can be traced directly to Great Britian, where robins descended from the thrush family.

CHARACTERISTICS
The robin is characterized by its orange or red chest and falls into one of two species of thrushes. The most familiar songbird in the eastern United States, the American Robin is actually a large North American thrush, and is the most numerous of all birds relative to the thrush family.

The American Robin is also the largest bird in the thrush family, measuring some ten inches from beak to tail. The male is olive-gray; the top and sides of the head are black, the chin and throat are white with black streaks, and the breast and underparts are reddish orange. In direct contrast with the male, the female has much duller coloring. Shades of grey and brown dot the female's body and her chest is a dull orange.

The robin has lived successfully in many climates, due in large part to it's ability to migrate as the weather turns cooler. Robins are social birds, which seems to be their biggest downfall. Because the robin has always lived in close proximity to humans, dwelling in nests built on the sides of houses, drainage areas or in trees hugging homes, many who are used to having food and shelter provided for them, and fail to head for warmer weather as soon as they should. Even this fact however, has not diminished the hearty robin's population.

The robin has a musical warble, often beginning to sing in the early morning hours as it searches for food.

EATING HABITS
The American Robin feeds on earthworms, insects, and berries. The robin will typically rise early, tip it's head, and begin to feed. It is thought that when the robin places its head near the ground, slightly tipping it, it is actually listening for the sounds of earth worms.


BIRTH AND MATING
A female robin typically lays between four and six eggs three or four times a year into a specially made nest. During pregnancy, the female works hard to gather mud and sticks and then uses her chest to form a deep bowl where the eggs will remain until hatched. Robins defend their young fiercly, even attacking cats or snakes who stray too close. Older robins often share the burden of caring for the young by roosting close by during dark evening hours.

MIGRATION
After the birthing period has ended, robins begin to gather food and leave on their journey. Robins never sing during this season outside of a gentle cackle to direct the younger members of the flock. Most American Robins leave the cooler climates in mid-September and travel south. It is during this time when robins do great harm to berry bushes; so great, in fact, that many farmers have obtained special licenses to shoot them. This aside, the American Robin has remained one of the most popular birds in the United States. The robin is the state bird of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Connecticut.