Singing the song of spring


Published Mar 13, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

American robin

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius

Characteristics: A familiar urban species that averages 10 inches in length with a plain orange-to-reddish breast, gray back and dark head. Females have a lighter breast and more white in the throat than males. Adults also have a broken white eye ring and black streaks on a white throat. Regional plumage variation exists.

Breeding: Builds a cup-shaped nest made of twigs and grasses on a limb or ledge; the interior is often mud-lined.

Habitat: Widespread across North America and Mexico, from urban neighborhoods to tundra to mountain forests. Often congregates in huge flocks in winter.

Food: Insects, worms, berries and fruit, but has been known to wade after minnows. In winter, huge gatherings of robins descend upon juniper trees, where the birds consume the berries.

Bird facts: The robin's song is a series of short, warbled notes often represented as “Cheerily cheerup cheerio,” but also makes a whinny and chirping call. Often regarded as a sign of spring, robins can now be heard calling in the early morning. Crayola offers a Robin's Egg Blue crayon. A flock of robins is called worm.

Sources: Oregon Department of Wildlife Resources, David Sibley's The Sibley Guide to Birds and www.whatbird.com.

— Damian Fagan is a birder, writer and COCC Community Learning instructor. He can be reached at damian.fagan@hotmail.com.