Quick ID: The American Robin

Quick ID: The American Robin


American Robins are easy to identify and can be found everywhere. They may be one of our most common birds in the US. So they can be great birds to start with if you are just learning to identify birds.

Robins are medium-sized birds. Because they are in the middle range of songbirds, they are often used as a guide to measuring other birds.

A sketch of an orange and gray bird from MJ's sketchbook. It's a robin standing on a branch.


Look for their orange-red bellies which stand out as nicely curved potbellies. The color and vibrancy of their belly feathers can vary by location. Americans Robins’ heads and backs are dark gray or almost black. Their beaks are yellow and there is a broken white ring around the eye.  The males and females look almost the same. The females can be duller and have a little white on their chests, but this can be hard to determine unless the males and females are next to each other. If you want to practice, look for a pair in early spring, when they are starting to nest.

 A notebook page with fieldnotes, photos and sketches of a Robin.

Robins are found in every state in the continental US. They like natural forests but have adapted readily to parks, backyards, and even cities. I have seen more than my fair share in parking lots. They are usually seen on the ground eating insects and worms. Robins are not usually shy around people, although few birds like to be interrupted when they are nesting. You can probably spot these birds easily by sitting on a park bench and looking at the grass, where they tend to pull worms out of the ground.

If you are up north in the US, you may wonder what happens to all the American Robins in the winter. For most of the U.S., they don't migrate. They simply change locations. They can be found in huge flocks that are near a ready food source or well-protected from the weather by a deep forest. They spend much less time on the ground, so you will need to look for them up high in trees in the cold months.

An American Robin sitting in a tree branch looking to the left. It's head is slightly turned away.

Since Robins readily eat many insects, they are beneficial to any environment that wishes to keep insect populations in check. They can be harmed by lawn pesticides, so consider ditching the chemicals to help them out. The birds also contribute to building small forests by doing what they do best: eating fruit! They help replant fruit by "depositing" the seeds after eating. American Robins may be common, but as native birds to North America, they still play an important part in our ecosystem.

a sticker of an orange and black bird sketch from Mj's sketchbook. It is a robin.

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