a story about the American robin.
Hear an American
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
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
Excerpts from The Birds of Texas by John L. Tveten with permission
from Shearer Publishing, Inc.