Forest Findings: American Robin

By Colleen Dabrowski

It’s finally happened! Spring has arrived, albeit late, to Drew University’s campus and with it, like clockwork, have come the robins. No, not the masked heroes–the birds! Though commonly referred to as robins, the proper informal name of these birds is in fact American robin. The American robin, given the scientific name of Turdus migratorius, can be heard singing early in the mornings throughout spring and summer. American robins are large songbirds, measuring from 8 inches to 11 inches  long, a wingspan of 12.2 inches to 15.8 inches wide, and weighing between 2.7 ounces to 3 ounces, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. American robins have the typical body shape of thrushes; they have a large, round body, long legs and a long tail. Cornell recommends that those wanting to learn about ornithology should study the body of the American robin to become accustomed to identifying thrushes by their body shape. As far as identification, American robins are some of the easiest local birds to identify. Not only are they relatively large, they have a unique and bright coloration that makes them easy to spot. American robins have a grey-brown body, a dark brown to black head, and a bright orangey-red  belly and chest. Female American robins have a lighter grey head than the males.

American robins live in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from open grassy areas such as parks, lawns, golf courses and fields to wooded areas such as deciduous forests, pine forests, shrublands and even forests recovering from fires, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The American robin eats primarily insects, berries and earthworms. At the start of summer, insects make up the majority of their diet. However, come winter, American robins live mostly off fruits, according to the Audubon Field Guide. Contrary to popular belief, American robins do not catch earthworms by using their hearing, rather they use their eyesight to spot the moving dirt.

Robins can be spotted all across Drew’s campus searching for a wormy snack in the grass. There is a nest by Smith house, and robins can often be seen hopping on the grass following behind students.

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