Do You Know the American Robins Habits? A Closer Look

American Robins, the red-breasted birds, or for some, the "Red Robin Bird" marks the return of Spring to most folks in the northern states.

One of the easiest birds to watch as they go about their nesting and feeding habits. Afterall, they're in most people's backyards.

Unknown to many people, Robins spend the winter in much of their breeding range.

Robin at Watering Hole

Robin Drinking at Small Stream

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 we compare other bird sizes. One of our 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 these birds. Often referred to as the Red Robin.

American Robin Call - Song

Often the first bird song in the mourning is that of the American Robin. A melodious and cheerful series of notes.

It is often described as a "cheerily, cheer-up, cheerio" or "cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up" pattern.

The song is typically clear and flute-like, with each note rising and falling in pitch.

In addition to their song, they produce various calls for different purposes.

One common call is a sharp, metallic "tut" or "tick" sound. This call is often used as an alarm to warn other robins of potential predators or threats in the vicinity.

It is a short and sharp sound that can be repeated rapidly. Get too close to a nest or young and you'll hear this call.

Another notable call is a soft, mellow "whinny" or "purr" sound. It is a gentle, rhythmic sound, described as a quiet warble.

Used by both males and females to keep in contact.


American Robins has gray upperparts and the familiar reddish breast, varying from pale rust to a dark brick red.

Males and females look nearly identical. The female colors are less vibrant.

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 an adult Robin is 9 to 11 inches long.

Juvenile Robins are like adults but are spotted on the breast and have shorter tails when they first fledge.

Often, you'll see these birds hopping on lawns, meadows, and golf courses looking for earthworms. They also eat insects, fruit, and berries.

Robin Nesting - Breeding Habits

At the start of the Robin nesting season, the male's song is to advertise his territory or to attract a mate. You'll hear them the most just before the young hatch.

The typical American Robin breeding season runs from April to July. Nesting may begin as early as March, in the southern states.

The female builds her nest, which is made of grasses, a middle layer of mud, then lined with fine grasses.

The nest is placed in the crotch of a tree or shrub 5-20 feet above the ground. The video below shows a Robin nest being built on a nesting shelf.

The availability of mud at nesting time may entice these red-robin birds to nest nearby. They will also make use of wool, string, and hair.

Video Shows Robin Nest Being Built

The American Robin can produce up to three successful broods in one year. On average, two clutches are raised with less than half being successful.

Robins are very protective of their nest and territory. You'll find Robin repeatedly flying into or attacking windows.

Only a quarter of those that fledge survive until 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 total population turns over on average every six years.

The female lays 3-7 light blue eggs that she will incubate, it will take the robin eggs 12 to 14 days to hatch.

The female Robin will brood the young until they can regulate their temperatures. This process takes about a week.

After the first week, the female does not spend the night in the nest. The young will leave the nest in about 14 to 16 days after hatching.

Robin in Evening Sunlight

Robin at Sunset

Robins will return to the same territories from season to season.

Sometimes they build a new nest on top of their old one. I've personally seen as many as three on top of one another. However, Robins do not reuse their nest.

American Robin Nesting Stats
American Robin Nesting Stats
Eggs 3 - 7 Avg. 4
Incubation 12 - 14 days
Nestling Phase 14- 16 days
Broods 2 - 3

It's a good idea to remove the old nests in baskets and off of downspouts and rafters in the fall so that parasites don't overwinter.

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 nests 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. The image below shows what a Robin's Nest and its blue eggs look like.

The Robin's nest is the one most people think of when they are thinking of what any bird's nest looks like.

Perfectly round with a mud base, grasses line the outside, and soft material for the eggs to rest on.

four blue american robin eggs in robin nest

Robin's Nest with Four Eggs Laid

Robin's nests are so well built that it's not uncommon to find Doves reusing them for their eggs and young.

Do Robin's Mate for Life?

When Robins pair at the beginning of the breeding season, they mostly stay together through several broods. Extra pair copulation is common.

If one of the pair dies, the other will find a new mate. Nest with young may be tended by remaining adult. Abandonment of eggs may occur.

Robins do not mate for life. At the end of the breeding season, flocks are formed and feed together during the winter.

Pairs may return to the same territory and repair seasonally. This is more about selecting the territory and not the mate.

Feeding Habits - What Robins Eat

Everyone has seen a Robin eating a worm from their lawn, but that's not all they eat.

Robins eat different types of food depending not only on the time of year but even the time of day.

They eat earthworms early in the day and switch to eating fruit later in the day.

Robins don't eat regular birdseed, but that doesn't mean you can't attract them to your feeders.

Try using an open tray feeder and placing dried raisins, grapes, and even grape jelly.

Robins love Mealworms, which are inch-long larvae, with brown, crusty shells, available from pet supply stores or online.

The perfect feeder for offering grape jelly or mealworms is this Bird Feeder.

Because Robins forage largely on lawns, they are vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.

Robins Diet in Winter

So what do Robins eat in winter when there is snow on the ground?

In winter, Robins head to wooded areas where there are berries and other fruit to eat during winter.

Native plants provide the food they need to survive winter.

Depending on where you live they may eat the fruit of Hawthorns, Sumac, Wild grapes, Winterberry, Serviceberry, and the Eastern Red Cedar.

The Eastern Red Cedar is also a favorite of the Cedar Waxwing


This is a bird of woodland edges and openings. Preferring 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.

Where Do Robins Go In Late Summer - July and August?

As it gets later in the season around late July or August, you begin to notice fewer Robins around your yard.

Once the nesting cycle winds down and juvenile Robins are getting along on their own, the adult Robins move to more forested areas.

The hot summer sun is baking our yards and earthworms and insects have burrowed deeper into the soil where Robins can't see them.

The forest floor, with its leaf litter and ripening berries, offers a bounty of food that will sustain the Robins through fall and some through winter.

Finding Baby Robins

Share Your Robin Story!
Robins find some funny and strange places to nest. Do you have a story and picture of Robins nesting around your home? Why not Share it With Our Visitors?
Got pictures? We Love Pics - To share your story or read what others have already shared - Start Here.

A good percentage of baby Robins are lost due to people thinking they've rescued the little bird.

The juveniles are often found on the ground without what seems to be any parental oversight.

Humans catch these newly fledged birds and take them inside, not knowing they've rescued a bird that didn't need rescuing.

Be careful around the nest or young birds on the ground as the adult may attack you. Read more here - Robin Diving at Humans.

When baby robins first leave the nest, they cannout fly well. Some jump to higher branches in the nest tree and some flap their wings to the ground and land softly.

These baby birds are fine. The adults will continue to care for them for 10 or more days after they leave the nest.

juvenile robin perched on woman's palm

Juvenile Robin Baby

If you're worried they may be in harm's way, help them to a nearby shrub for protection so that the adults will find and continue feeding them.

The adult birds can see you a block away. So don't assume because you don't see any adult birds that there are none around.

Adult Robins are listening for the juveniles 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.

Keeping your cats indoors during the nesting season will go a long way in helping our birds.

Baby Robins do not return to the nest after fledging.

Visitors to this site have submitted photos and stories of some Robins unusual nesting places that they've choosen to raise their young.

Robins Nesting in Hanging Plants

Watch Videos of Our Nest Experience

Learn About Attracting Robins To Your Backyard

Watch as Baby Robins (juvenile) Leave The Nest

birds and blooms magazine cover pioneer woman magazine cover people-magazine cover first for women magazine cover
Birds and Blooms Pioneer Woman People Magazine First For Women


Have A Great Story and Photo About Robins Around Your Home?

We would love to read your story about Robins in your yard. REMEMBER: Photos are Required to get your story published.

To begin just enter the information asked for and your story will soon appear on this website.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

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