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Hear a story about the American robin.
Hear an American robin.

adapted from The Birds of Texas
by John L. Tveten

The American robin--this largest of our thrushes--needs little introduction, for few other birds are as widely recognized. It ranges across the length and breadth of the continent and serves as the state bird of three states -- Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin. The robin nests from the treeline in Alaska and northern Canada south to the Gulf Coast and the mountains of Mexico. While many bird species occupy either the eastern or the western states, the robin is equally at home on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

The adults are gray-brown above, with brick-red breasts, white bellies and black-streaked white throats. Juvenile robins have brown specks on their breasts. Older males often have black heads, contrasting strongly with the white eye-ring and yellow bill, but there is a great deal of individual color variation, and the sexes cannot be safely separated by plumage alone.

Robins withdraw from the northern portion of their range in winter and migrate southward to seek more abundant food supplies. They winter throughout Texas but remain to breed primarily in the northern and eastern portions of the state and locally in the mountains of the west. On their southern wintering grounds robins congregate in huge flocks, feeding together on insects, worms and berries and massing in the trees to roost at night.

In spring the males are first to head northward to establish territories in which they will woo their prospective mates. It is then that the robin emerges in its true glory, a colorful songbird with brilliant plumage and a rich, caroling song of lilting phrases. The robin's return to the North is widely heralded as the first sign of spring, although other less popular birds may actually precede it on the migration flyways. For many people, winter is not over until the robin sings.

Although to most of us this familiar bird is simply "the robin," its proper name is American robin. Other robin species occur throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and three of them have been reported as vagrants along the Rio Grande. The American robin was named by homesick colonists for the robin that occurs commonly across Europe. The two are distantly related, but both have red breasts.

Excerpts from The Birds of Texas by John L. Tveten with permission from Shearer Publishing, Inc.

More Bird Facts

The robin is a member of the thrush family, which also includes bluebirds, solitaires and thrushes. These are medium-sized birds with rather long legs and slender bills.

Robins and their relatives eat insects, worms and fruits and most lay "robin's-egg blue" eggs. They nest in shrubs and trees in woodlands, swamps, suburbs and parks.

The robin's nest is a solid fortress of grass and mud, which the female shapes with her breast and wings by turning round and round in it. A lining of softer fibers cushions the three to five blue eggs.

Robins are among the avian world's best singers. Cheerily cheer-up cherrio!

More Resources

International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council website on the American Robin

U.S. Geological Survey Site on the American Robin

A photograph of robin eggs

A Wildlife Checklist for Thrushes

Can you find the robin in this drawing?

A robin to color

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This website was a project of the Passport to Texas Radio Series and Texas Parks & Wildlife from 1999-2001 | Website designed by Pallasart Web Design | © 2002 KJ Productions and audioeclips | Photograph © Photo by John L. Tveten