The American Robin (Turdus migratorius), also known as the Robin or Common Robin, is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the flycatcher family. The American Robin is widely distributed throughout North America, wintering south of Canada from Florida to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. It is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to some sources, the American Robin ranks behind only the Red-winged Blackbird (and just ahead of the introduced European Starling) as the most abundant, extant land bird in North America. It has seven subspecies, but only T. m. confinis in the southwest is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts.
The American Robin is active mostly during the day and assembles in large flocks at night. Its diet consists of invertebrates (such as beetle grubs, earthworms, and caterpillars), fruits and berries. It is one of the earliest bird species to lay eggs, beginning to breed shortly after returning to its summer range from its winter range. Its nest consists of long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and feathers, and is smeared with mud and often cushioned with grass or other soft materials. It is among the first birds to sing at dawn, and its song consists of several discrete units that are repeated.
The adult robin is preyed upon by hawks, cats and larger snakes, but when feeding in flocks, it can be vigilant and watch other birds for reactions to predators. Brown-headed Cowbirds lay eggs in robin nests (see brood parasite), but robins usually reject the cowbird eggs.
This bird breeds throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada southward to northern Florida and Mexico. While Robins occasionally overwinter in the northern part of the United States and southern Canada, most migrate to winter south of Canada from Florida and the Gulf Coast to central Mexico, as well as along the Pacific Coast. Most depart south by the end of August and begin to return north in February and March (exact dates vary with latitude and climate). Despite being depicted in the film Mary Poppins “feathering its nest” in London, this species is actually a rare vagrant to western Europe, where the majority of records, more than 20, have been in Britain. In autumn 2003, migration was displaced eastwards leading to massive movements through the eastern US, and presumably this is what led to no fewer than three American Robins being found in Britain, with two attempting to overwinter in 2003–2004, although one was taken by a Sparrowhawk.
The most recent sighting in Britain occurred in January 2007.
This species has also occurred as a vagrant to Greenland, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Belize. Vagrants to Europe, where identified to subspecies, are nominate T. m. migratorius, but the Greenland birds also included T. m. nigrideus, and some of the southern overshots may have been T. m. achrusterus.
The American Robin’s breeding habitat is woodland and more open farmland and urban areas. It becomes less common as a breeder in the southernmost part of the Deep South of the United States, and there prefers large shade trees on lawns. Its winter habitat is similar but includes more open areas.