American Robins, the red breasted birds, mark the return of Spring to most folks in the northern states. One of the easiest birds to watch while they go about their nesting and feeding habits since they're in most peoples backyards.
Actually, unknown to a lot of people, these birds spend the winter in much of their breeding range. However, because they spend less time in yards and congregate more in wooded areas you may not see them as often.
During milder winters, it's more common to see them in our backyards.
These birds are often used as the standard to which other birds sizes are compared; one of the most common native birds of the East, and the largest of the Thrush Family.
Hardly a garden in North America has not been visited by this bird. Often referred to as the Red Robin.
Sometimes during nesting season you'll see mud on the breast of a female, since she is the one that lines the nest with mud. The average size of this bird is 9-11 inches long.
Often, you'll see these birds hopping on lawns, meadows, and golf courses looking for earthworms. They also eat insects, fruit, and berries.
The song of the male is to advertise his territory or to attract a mate. You'll hear them the most just before the young hatch. The typical breeding season for this bird is from April to July
The female builds the nest which is made of grasses, a middle layer of mud, then lined with fine grasses. The nest is usually placed in the crotch of a tree or shrub 5-20 feet above ground.
The availability of mud at nesting time may entice these birds to nest nearby. They will also make use of wool, string and hair.
They can produce up to three successful broods in one year. On average, two clutches are raised with less than half being successful. Only a quarter of those that do fledge survive to November. From that point on, about half of the birds alive in any year will make it to the next.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the whole population turns over on average every six years.
The female lays 3-7 light blue eggs that are incubated for 12-14 days and the young leave the nest in about 14-16 days.
These birds will return to the same territories from season to season. Sometimes they build a new nest on top of their old one. I've seen as many as three on top of one another.
It's a good idea to remove old nest in baskets and off of downspouts and rafters in fall so that parasites don't overwinter.
Visitors to this site have submitted photos and stories of some unusual nesting places that this bird chooses to raise their young.
Removing the nest protects future broods should they return to the same site because parasites may travel from the old nest to the new nest. Sometimes a single female will build several nest close to one another. She will eventually select one to raise her young in. No one knows why they do this from time to time.
It's not uncommon to find Doves reusing a Robins nest to lay their eggs and raise young.
Because they forage largely on lawns, they are vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.
This is a bird of woodland edges and opening. Prefering open ground on which it can forage for insects to eat and feed their young. Try placing fruit on tray feeders or planting fruiting shrubs to attract more of them to your backyard garden.
After the breeding season, Robins flock together and go to large communal roosts at night. This habit continues from fall through winter.
A good percentage of baby birds are lost due to people thinking they've rescued the little one. The young are often found on the ground without what seems to be, any parental oversight. Adults and children catch these newly fledged birds and take them inside, not knowing they've rescued a bird that didn't need rescuing.
You see, when baby robins first leave the nest, they are unable to fly. Some jump to higher branches in the nest tree and some take a tumble to the ground but landing softly. These baby birds are fine, the adults will continue to care for them. Leave Them Be!
If you're worried they may be in harms way, help them to a nearby shurb for protection and so that the adults will find and continue feeding them. The adult birds can see you a block away. So don't think because you don't see any adult birds that there are none around. Adults are listening for their young and will find them if you keep them close to where you found them.
Please share this information with others who may think they're helping these young birds. Keep your cats indoors during the nesting season and that will help a lot also. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
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The Chosen One
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