American Robin

Photo copyright Mike Lubchenko

When we moved into Somers, we were welcomed by a robin that built a nest in our hanging fuchsia. Despite our comings and goings, she successfully fledged her family. The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is to many the classic bird: the one we know if we know only one.

Robins are not quiet birds. If you walk in your neighborhood or past a meadow in Angle Fly Preserve and hear a horse whinnying – but no horses are around – look for a robin calling. The robin’s song, a melodious, “Cheeri-up, cheerily, cheeri-up, cheerily,” is often repeated at length from high in a tree, the light making their breasts glow. On a recent neighborhood stroll, I saw a large flock of robins hopping across a lawn, pulling earthworms and other prey from the damp earth. As I approached, they took off in long, low glides, the white corners of their black tails suddenly flashing.

Although they are named after a European bird that also has a red-orange breast, the two are not related. The American Robin, as suggested by its sweet whistling song, is related to the thrushes that you often hear but rarely see in the woods: the Wood and Hermit Thrushes and the Vireo. Young robins have strongly spotted breasts, more closely resembling their thrush cousins.

Years ago when visiting friends in Ohio, a baby robin landed on a lily pad in a koi pond. It was scrabbling desperately to keep its footing on the slippery surface. My husband heard its terrified squeeks and not knowing what else to do, extended his hand to the tiny bird. Instantly, the bird jumped onto his hand and let itself be ferried to earth. The bird stayed long enough for me to draw a little sketch of him until his plaintive calls were answered by his mother and off they went together.

Drawing copyright Lauretta Jones

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