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Rockin’ Robins

Mar 21, 2016

With the first warm weather of March, robins return to our lawns and gardens, and are one of our best indicators that spring has arrived!

The robin’s cheery song and boldness around people make it a favorite backyard bird. They’re found throughout our area, from farm pastures to city parks. You’ve probably seen them on your lawn, as they search for earthworms or as males chase each other defending their territories.

Look carefully in nearby trees and shrubs and you might find a nest, which is cup-shaped and made of grass and mud. Be sure that you don’t disturb the female, who may be incubating her four small blue eggs. Sometimes, you’ll find the nest unattended while the parents are away feeding.

About two weeks after the young robins hatch, they’re ready to leave the nest. They’ll join their parents on your lawn, running after the adults and begging for food until they learn to fend for themselves. You can identify the young robins by their speckled breasts.

As the breeding season ends and fall approaches, robins form large flocks and move into woodland areas for the winter. There, they feed on berries and seeds, waiting for warm weather and the first signs of spring.

The Roving Robin

  • As a cherished symbol of springtime, the robin’s value to the human spirit is reflected in poetry and song. Because they often build nests that are easily seen, robins are loved by bird-watchers and children. Robins also busily devour grubs whose feeding can disfigure manicured lawns.
  • Formerly killed for its meat, the American robin is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the 1900 Lacey Act. It is also the species most memorable from Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which illustrated how insect-eating birds can be killed indirectly from poisons intended for plant-eating insects.
  • Robins are found in Missouri year-round. They breed as soon as they arrive in spring, building nests of mud, grasses and twigs; there are usually 3-5 blue eggs per clutch, and usually 2-3 broods per season. The naked, helpless chicks hatch in 14 days; they fledge 14 days later but still require their parents’ help.

Learn more about the American robin with the MDC’s Field Guide.

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Robin chicks getting fed by a parent.
American Robin
American Robin chicks are being fed by their parent on an afternoon in Columbia, MO.

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Chicks in a robin nest
Robin Nest
Chicks wait for their mother to bring food in an American robin's nest.

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