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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

American Robin

Turdus migratorius ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TURDIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The quintessential early bird, American Robins are common sights on lawns across North America, where you often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground. Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter. Though they’re familiar town and city birds, American Robins are at home in wilder areas, too, including mountain forests and Alaskan wilderness.

Merlin Bird ID app
Birds of North America Online

Keys to identification Help

Thrushes
Thrushes
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    American Robins are fairly large songbirds with a large, round body, long legs, and fairly long tail. Robins are the largest North American thrushes, and their profile offers a good chance to learn the basic shape of most thrushes. Robins make a good reference point for comparing the size and shape of other birds, too.

  • Color Pattern

    American Robins are gray-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the lower belly and under the tail can be conspicuous. Compared with males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray back.

  • Behavior

    American Robins are industrious and authoritarian birds that bound across lawns or stand erect, beak tilted upward, to survey their environs. When alighting they habitually flick their tails downward several times. In fall and winter they form large flocks and gather in trees to roost or eat berries.

  • Habitat

    American Robins are common across the continent in gardens, parks, yards, golf courses, fields, pastures, tundra, as well as deciduous woodlands, pine forests, shrublands, and forests regenerating after fires or logging.

Range Map Help

American Robin Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    American Robin

    Adult
    • Black and white streaked throat
    • Rusty red breast and sides
    • Yellow bill (often with black tip)
    • © birdmandea, Steilacoom, Washington, November 2008
  • Adult male

    American Robin

    Adult male
    • Gray upperparts, darker head
    • White eye crescents
    • Dark tail with white corners in flight
    • Yellow bill with black tip
    • © Gregg Lee, Glen Rose, Texas, February 2008
  • Adult female

    American Robin

    Adult female
    • Reddish orange breast and sides
    • Gray upperparts
    • White belly
    • Yellow bill with black tip
    • © Nick Saunders, Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, January 2008
  • Juvenile

    American Robin

    Juvenile
    • Reddish breast with large black spots
    • Pale eyebrow
    • Pinkish bill
    • © barnmom42, Pennsylvania, February 2008
  • Adult

    American Robin

    Adult
    • Gray upperparts, darker head
    • Reddish orange breast and sides
    • White belly and undertail
    • White eye crescents and throat
    • © Debbie McKenzie, Alabama, September 2008
  • Adult male

    American Robin

    Adult male
    • Reddish orange breast and sides
    • White undertail with dark patterning
    • © Born Again Bird Watcher, Scappoose, Oregon, December 2008
  • Adult male

    American Robin

    Adult male
    • Gray upperparts with dark head
    • Usually forages on the ground
    • © Birdfreak.com, April 2008
  • Adult

    American Robin

    Adult
    • Reddish orange breast and sides
    • White belly and undertail
    • Black and white streaked throat
    • White eye crescents
    • © Laura Erickson, Ithaca, New York, June 2008
  • Adult female

    American Robin

    Adult female
    • Gray upperparts
    • Reddish orange breast may have white edging
    • © birdmandea, November 2008

Similar Species

  • Adult female

    Eastern Bluebird

    Adult female
    • Smaller, with more compact proportions than a robin
    • Paler, rounder head
    • Subdued orange-brown chest
    • Tinges of blue on the wings and tail
    • © Debbie McKenzie , Alabama, September 2008
  • Adult male

    Eastern Towhee

    Adult male
    • Rufous orange sides and flanks, white breast and belly
    • Black hood, back, and tail
    • Thick, black bill
    • © Larry Meade, Arlington, Virginia, April 2007
  • Adult male

    Orchard Oriole

    Adult male
    • Separated from American Robin by sharp, thin bill and long black tail
    • Black head, throat, and upperparts
    • Rufous shoulder, white edges on wings
    • Lacks the robin's white lower belly
    • © Gerry Dewaghe, May 2006
  • Adult

    Say's Phoebe

    Adult
    • Reddish or pinkish belly and undertail
    • Gray chest, darker gray head and upperparts
    • Black tail
    • © Gerry Dewaghe, December 2008
  • Adult male

    Varied Thrush

    Adult male
    • Rusty orange throat, breast, and sides
    • Black cap and thick eyestripe, orange eyebrow
    • Gray back and wings, orange wingbars
    • Black breastband, grayish flanks
    • © John Riutta, Scappoose, Oregon, December 2008
  • Adult male

    Vermilion Flycatcher

    Adult male
    • Bright red crown, throat, and underparts
    • Dark gray nape and upperparts
    • Dark mask
    • © Joan Gellatly, Tucson, Arizona, February 2009
  • Adult

    Wood Thrush

    Adult
    • Rusty brown upperparts, brighter around head and nape
    • White below with bold black spotting on breast and flanks
    • © Birdfreak.com, Argyle, Illinois, May 2008

Similar Species

Eastern and Spotted towhees have short, thick bills instead of the American Robin's long, narrow bill. Their chestnut flanks don't extend all the way across the belly and breast like an American Robin. Spotted Towhees have white spotting on either an all-black or rich brown back, unlike the robin's unmarked gray back. The Varied Thrush of the Pacific coast is dark blue-gray above, with a thick dark band across its orange chest.

Regional Differences

Western populations are often paler than eastern populations and have almost no white at the tail corners. Breeding robins on the Canadian Atlantic coast are richly colored, with black on the upper back and neck.

Backyard Tips

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

Find This Bird

Look for American Robins running across lawns or stalking earthworms in your yard or a nearby park. Since robins sing frequently, you can find them by listening for their clear, lilting musical whistles. In winter they may disappear from your lawn but could still be around. Look for flocks of them in treetops and around fruiting trees, and listen for their low cuck notes.

Get Involved

American Robins are a focal species for the Celebrate Urban Birds! project. Conduct a 10-minute count and record whether or not you see robins.

Count birds for Project FeederWatch to help track the movements of numbers of robins and other birds in winter.

Learn how to look for and monitor robin nests for NestWatch

You Might Also Like

Browse through summaries of more than a decade of data on American Robins and other common species sighted during the Great Backyard Bird Count

Night Chorus: Robins sing in the glow of city lights

Robins as Far as the Eye Can See: Massive winter roost reported in Great Backyard Bird Count.

Is Your Sighting of a Winter Robin Unusual? A look at eBird data.

Q & A: What Happened to All the Robins?

American Robin: The suburban bird (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center)