American Robin: Myths & Truths

By Dave Hanks

The American Robin is given credit as the harbinger of spring. I find that a hard to support, oft-told saying. True, many Robins do migrate (especially the females), but we have male Robins hanging around our property all winter. Evidently, they are reluctant to leave their territories. If there is an abundant food source and water available they will stay. This winter, we have had a flock of about forty living in a small plot of Russian Olive trees – eating the berries. I suspect the real harbingers of spring are people. People, who roll out of doors when the weather starts to warm up, and personally seeing a Robin for the first time in the year declare, “the Robins are back – spring is here”.

However, the Robin must surely be classified as the “early bird”. Many song birds do not get active until the sun has had a chance to warm the air. But you can always depend on the Robin to be around in most places and at an early hour. They love lawns, especially when moisture causes worms to surface. They now become: “The early bird that gets the worm”. They also love fruit – stripping bushes of any berries that appear. In fact, it can be a race to harvest the fruit crop before the Robins do.

Called a Robin, by the first immigrants, because of the brick-red front which is similar to the English Robin. It is really a large Thrush, a family that includes Bluebirds as well as other birds named Thrushes. This is a family of eloquent songsters. The Robin is our most adaptable bird and can be found in almost any habitat. If you have a bird bath, or other sources of shallow water, you will see them bathing frequently. They love water! The fact that they do well around people, assures their survivability in spite of our ever increasing population. The Robin is the state bird of Connecticut and Wisconsin - a worthy symbol.