beneficial insects and degrade stormwater quality, but can also poison robins and other birds that feed on invertebrates in lawns.
We humans crave novelty. Birders demonstrate this to great effect with bird checklists and the never-ending longing to see something new. But where would we be without common birds like robins living close to us, providing a wild streak to our daily lives? Robins represent the everyday elements of nature—like sunrises punctuated with bird song, nests discovered in corners of porches, and beautiful fragments of eggshell on the ground—that we often take for granted, and that we would crave if they were gone.
American Robin Facts
- Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius. Turdus is the Latin name for thrush. The species name is reflective of the migratory nature of robins, which travel in spring and fall to available food sources.
- Size: At an average of 10 inches from beak to tail, the American robin is the largest member of the thrush family regularly seen in Missouri.
- Appearance: Adult male and female coloration is the same (dark brown head, back and wings, russet breast, yellow beak) but females are generally paler, especially the head.
- Survival and reproduction: While a robin may nest three times in one year, only 40 percent of nests successfully produce young, and only 25 percent of fledged young survive to November. And, only about half of the robins alive in any year will make it to the next. The oldest robin known lived to almost 14 years of age, but the average 6-month-old robin only has another 1.7 years to live.
- Food: Earthworms and other invertebrates, including butterflies, moths, ants, spiders and beetles, especially in spring and summer. In fall and winter, robins spend more time in trees and shrubs eating fruits.
- Breeding Season: In Missouri, March to mid- to late August. Males assertively defend territory, flying at or even striking rival males chest to chest. Pairs generally stay together for the entire season.
- Nest: Made of mud, grass and twigs. Robins often incorporate worm castings into nests.
- Eggs/Young: Usually four eggs per brood. Robins will produce two to three broods each year.
- Incubation and Fledging: Females incubate eggs for approximately 12 to 14 days after laying the last egg. Fledglings usually leave the nest 14 to 16 days after hatching.
For more information on robins other common birds and birding in Missouri, visit MDC at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/235, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at www.birds.cornell.edu, or Patuxent Wildlife Research Center at www.pwrc.usgs.gov. A wealth of information on birds and climate change is also available at www.birdsandclimate.org, maintained by the National Audubon Society.