The American Robin

October 28, 2012

The Robin is perhaps the most familiar bird in North America; it occurs throughout most of the continent with the exception of northern Alaska and the treeless tundra north of Hudson Bay. I think if you asked every person to name a bird, I bet the Robin would be named most often. Not much of a problem identifying the Robin, the sexes are similar, but the female tends to be duller than the male, with a brown tint to the head, brown upperparts and less bright underparts. The young birds are paler in color than the adult male and have dark spots on its breast.

In the spring we look forward to seeing and hearing the first returning Robin in our yards, watching them on the lawns, run and stop, turning its head as if listening then in an instant extracts a worm. The American Robin begins to breed shortly after returning to its summer range. It is one of the first North American bird species to lay eggs, and normally has two to three broods per breeding season, which lasts from April to August.

The American Robin is the most abundant resident breeding bird in Mount Auburn and can be found in all twelve months of the year. In the spring you find them feeding on the ground, in the fall they are eating the fruits of many trees in the Cemetery.
Some of the favorite trees are the dogwoods including the Kousa, the Amur Cork Tree, which produces clusters of fleshy black berries that provide food from the late fall to early winter, the two cork trees at Halcyon Lake can be filled with up to 100 Robins at this time along with Cedar Waxwings and Northern Flickers. Recently I’ve found the Korean Evodia on Harvard Hill to be a great food source for the Robins and other birds.

About the Author: Bob Stymeist

Bob Stymeist is Bird Observer's Bird Sightings Compiler and a regular bird walk leader for the Friends of Mount Auburn. View all posts by Bob Stymeist →


  1. Douglas Shaw says:

    Each spring a robin starts singing in our large Liriodendron at about 4am. As summer arrives there are many other robins with similar appearance. In the fall there are robins that have white feathers along the edges of their tales. They stay through winter. are they of a different “race”?
    Douglas Shaw, Cambridge

    • Stephanie Messina says:

      Hello Douglas,
      Thank you for your question. According to some of the bird experts on staff, there are a couple of possibilities regarding the appearance of white feathers on the robin’s tails. Male robins will display white plumage on the corners of their tails while in flight. Immature robins will also display more variegation in their plumage, so while part of the same species, the individual birds can be different in appearance. The following link provides some additional information and photographs of robins that may be of use:

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