The American robin is a member of the thrush family and among the most well-recognized birds in the United States. Its song is one of the first heard in the morning, and one of the last in the evening. That song is considered the first sign of spring in Canada. A habitat generalist, the robin is found in every part of North America.
The robin is not picky, which explains its abundant population. It thrives in almost any natural or constructed habitat. Originally dwelling in open forestland, the robin has adapted to habitats from the arctic to the tropics, nesting in wetlands, forests, scrub, thickets, agricultural land and cities. They do well near suburban communities since many of their predators keep away from human activity.
Robins dwelling in the north of the continent--Canada and northern United States--migrate south to Mexico for the winter. They are among the first birds to return in the spring, the males preceding the females to their previous nesting grounds. Birds inhabiting milder regions do not migrate.
The nesting area is a critical part of robin habitat. Females do most of the nest construction, building a 6 by 2 inch nest of twigs and grass then gluing it together with mud. They are typically tree-nesters, and require nesting cover--usually tree leaves--in order to protect the young from predators. Male robins sleep away from the nest so predators cannot follow them to the nest. Groups of male robins sleep together in a separate roost area.
Robins eat fruit and insects, mostly earthworms plucked from the grass in the early morning or late evening. They prefer to hunt in one area rather than forage far from the nest. The species requires a habitat where soft bodied insects can be readily found. They consume grub, caterpillars, spiders and berries, but cannot eat hard fruits or grains.
Critical Elements of Habitat
American robins require more water than most birds so they need to be near a water source. They bath twice daily to rid their wings of excess oil. They also require damp soil since it is better for earthworms and the mud they use for nest building. They also require nesting cover, food and vegetation to protect themselves from the elements.