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American Robin Fact Sheet
Turdus migratorius

Robin Female on nest
Photo: Yves Poussart

Species description: Adult males and females have a dark back and a reddish breast, although males have slightly more brilliant colours than females. Juveniles look like females but have black spots on their breast and pale streaks on their bodies. The average adult weight is 75 g.
Nesting distribution 
in Canada:
Robins nest in all provinces and territories of Canada south of the tree line. Robins are absent in northern Québec and in the Arctic archipelago.


Map produced with digital range map files provided by the Canadian Wildlife Service. To view maps for additional species, visit http://wildspace.ec.gc.ca/maps-e.html

When to start looking 
for nests in Canada?
Beginning of April for southern parts of the country 
Robins arrive in Canada in early spring, sometimes before snow has melted. Males arrive on breeding grounds first, sometimes as early as the beginning of March, and establish a territory. Females arrive a few days later and pair bonding occurs. Robins usually come back to the same area, year after year, and may also use the same nest as during the previous summer. In southern parts of Canada or during mild winters, Robins can remain in Canada throughout the year.
Nesting habitat: Diversified: residential gardens, woodlands, urban parks, etc. 
Robins were forest-nesting species but have, over time, become especially adapted to cities and open areas. They now commonly nest in gardens and parks although they can be found in just about any type of habitat, apart from swamps and marshes.
Nest support: Diversified: trees, bushes, vines, stumps, buildings (e.g., roof gutters), fences, open nest boxes, etc.
In trees, the nest is often found in a fork or on a strong branch. Robins nest early, sometimes before leaves are out. For this reason, the first clutch is often put in coniferous trees (e.g., spruce, cedar; well-hidden from predators) while the second one will often be in deciduous trees (e.g., maple, hawthorn). Interestingly, Robins can also establish their nest in open nest boxes (boxes without one of the panels) anchored to a tree or a building.
Nest description:
Variable material used: twigs, dry grass, mud, scraps of cloth, etc.
Only females build the cup-shaped nest; up to six days may be required. Twigs and grasses are placed in a cup-shape and are held together by mud. Strings, scraps of cloth and pieces of paper are also often used. The inside of the nest is covered with fresh grass.

 

Robin nest with eggs
Photo: Rudy O'Reilly
Three Young Robins at nest
Photo: Rudy O'Reilly

 

Nest height: From ground level (not common) to 21m, but usually between 1.4 and 3m.
Clutch size: 3 to 7 eggs, usually 3 or 4.
Eggs are laid one day apart. The first clutch of the season is usually bigger than the second one.
Number of clutches 
per season:
Usually 2.
The nest for the second clutch is initiated when young from the first clutch have left the nest.
Egg colour: Light blue, rarely marked.
In Canada, only a few species other than the Robin lay unmarked blue eggs: Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Veery and Gray Catbird.
Incubation period: 9 to 15 days, usually 12 to 14.
The incubation period starts when the last egg is laid. Only females incubate.
Nest parasitism: Robins are known to reject other species' eggs, including Brown-headed Cowbird eggs. However, a Robin's nest may, on rare occasions, still hold a Cowbird's egg. See our Brown-headed Cowbird fact sheet to learn more about this exclusively parasitic species.
Age at first flight: 14 to 16 days
Parental care: Young at the nest are fed by both parents, first by regurgitation, then by offering them larvae or whole earthworms. Once young leave the nest, they are fed by the male for an additional two weeks. This enables the female to start another clutch, if the nesting season is not too too far advanced.
Diet: Diversified: fruits, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, earthworms, etc.
The Robin's diet varies according to the season and habitat. Earthworms and larvae are mostly taken in spring while fruits make-up a better part of their diet later in the summer and autumn. Robins can take a large quantity of chokeberries, mountain ash berries, wine grapes and tomatoes. 
Threats: Robins are sensitive to pesticides used in urban areas and orchards. In residential areas, cats represent a great threat as they often kill nestlings. 

 

For more information on the American Robin, visit the following web sites:

 

 

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