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Merlin Bird ID

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    American Robin Life History


    Habitat Open WoodlandsAmerican Robins are common birds across the continent. You’ll find them on lawns, fields, and city parks, as well as in more wild places like woodlands, forests, mountains up to near treeline, recently burned forests, and tundra. During winter many robins move to moist woods where berry-producing trees and shrubs are common.Back to top


    Food InsectsAmerican Robins eat large numbers of both invertebrates and fruit. Particularly in spring and summer they eat large numbers of earthworms as well as insects and some snails. (They have rarely been recorded eating shrews, small snakes, and aquatic insects.) Robins also eat an enormous variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, and sumac fruits, and juniper berries. One study suggested that robins may try to round out their diet by selectively eating fruits that have bugs in them.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest TreeFemale robins choose the nest sites, which are typically on one or several horizontal branches hidden in or just below a layer of dense leaves. Nests are typically in the lower half of a tree, although they can be built as high as the treetop. American Robins also nest in gutters, eaves, on outdoor light fixtures, and other structures. In western prairies, American Robins may build their nests on the ground or in thickets, while in Alaska they sometimes nest on buildings or cliffs.

    Nest Description

    Females build the nest from the inside out, pressing dead grass and twigs into a cup shape using the wrist of one wing. Other materials include paper, feathers, rootlets, or moss in addition to grass and twigs. Once the cup is formed, she reinforces the nest using soft mud gathered from worm castings to make a heavy, sturdy nest. She then lines the nest with fine dry grass. The finished nest is 6-8 inches across and 3-6 inches high.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:3-5 eggs
    Number of Broods:1-3 broods
    Egg Length:1.1-1.2 in (2.8-3 cm)
    Egg Width:0.8 in (2.1 cm)
    Incubation Period:12-14 days
    Nestling Period:13 days
    Egg Description:Sky blue or blue-green and unmarked.
    Condition at Hatching:Helpless at birth, mostly naked with spare whitish down.
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    Behavior Ground ForagerWhen foraging on the ground, the American Robin runs a few steps, then stops abruptly. In long grass, robins may hop or fly just above the ground powered by slow, powerful wingbeats. American Robins often find worms by staring, motionless, at the ground with the head cocked to one side. Robins sometimes fight over worms that others have caught. During fall and winter robins often roost in large flocks and spend much more time in trees. In spring, males attract females by singing, raising and spreading their tails, shaking their wings and inflating their white-striped throats. When pairs are forming in spring, you may see a display in which a male and female approach each other holding their bills wide open and touching them. American Robins are strong, straight, and fast fliers.Back to top


    Conservation Low ConcernAmerican Robins are numerous and widespread, and their populations are stable or increasing throughout their range over the last few decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 310 million, with 79% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 45% in Canada, and 13% in Mexico. They rate a 5 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an indicator of chemical pollution.Back to top

    Backyard Tips

    This species often comes to bird feeders. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

    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.

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    Dunne, Pete. 2006. Pete Dunne's essential field guide companion: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

    North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

    Partners in Flight. 2017. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

    Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

    Sibley, David Allen. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

    Vanderhoff, Natasha, Peter Pyle, Michael A. Patten, Rex Sallabanks and Frances C. James. 2016. American Robin (Turdus migratorius), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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