Everyone is familiar with the robin. It’s the bird that, when describing another bird, people often use as a reference, “it was about the size of a robin.” We see them on our lawns, in city parks, in our fruit trees, and even nesting in our backyards. We see them in every season of the year from the blistering heat of the summer to the frigid (especially this year) winter.
The American Robin got its name from the early European settlers who, upon seeing the bird for the first time thought it looked like a bird they were familiar with back in the motherland, the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula). The European Robin also has a reddish breast. However, the European Robin is not in the same family of birds as the American Robin.
A more fitting name for the American Robin might be Lawn Thrush. It is a thrush and most of us do encounter robins on lawns although I expect there were few if any lawns present when the early settlers arrived in North America. Their preferred habitat also includes deciduous woods, forest edges, and shrublands.
The robin’s latin, or scientific, name means migratory thrush. Robins do migrate, but so do the other thrushes. It’s the robin, though, that we see in large numbers feeding in crabapple trees, on golf course fairways, and lawns. Their movements north and south are much more obvious than their other thrush relatives and are easily observed by those of us who notice such things. Robins can be seen year round in just about every state in the lower forty-eight.
You’ve no doubt seen a robin wrestling with an earthworm trying to yank it out of the ground during the warm months but they also eat a variety of other invertebrates. In fall and winter they can easily, and I assume happily, switch over to fruit. I’ve more than once seen a flock of robins make a clean sweep of a hawthorn or other fruit laden tree or shrub.
Robins are tough, adaptable, and handsome birds. Most of us tend to not pay much attention to them, they’re commonplace. But try this, next time you see a robin, whether in the winter or during the warmer months, take the time to watch it for a brief while. I guarantee that you’ll discover something about the bird that you’ve never known or seen before, whether in the bird’s behavior or in its appearance.
Happy robin watching!