Alberta, Canada
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American Robin
Turdus migratorius
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General Description

By Gustave J. Yaki

One of the most widespread North American birds today, the familiar and confiding robin breeds across the continent from the treeline southward, and in the mountains to southern Mexico. They winter mainly in the southern USA. They are found breeding throughout Alberta wherever there is a tree from which they can sing and hide their nest. Before the arrival of Europeans, robins would have been absent from the grassland region, except along valleys, due to the lack of trees then.

This so-called "Harbinger of Spring", equally at home in the city or the forest, often overwinters in southern Alberta, sometimes in considerable numbers. Usually, the first true migrants appear from late February to mid March. The males are the first to arrive, followed three weeks later by the females. In mid summer, after breeding is complete, robins gather in large flocks, often along streams where there are abundant fruiting shrubs. Autumn migration peaks in September, with most birds gone by early November, however some robins are recorded on almost every Christmas Bird Count in Calgary and surrounding areas.

Everyone has seen the robin hopping across the lawn, cocking his head as if to listen, but actually to look for earthworms, one of his most favoured foods. Additional food items include insects and other invertebrates, plus fruit, both wild and domesticated.

The nest is usually hidden in trees or shrubs but often on ledges about man-made structures, from 1-15 m high. It is a substantial well-shaped cup. With a base of twigs, plant stems and grass, and a wall of mud, it is lined with fine grasses or other available soft material. It often take a week or more to construct, but under ideal conditions, one nest was fully finished in only 12 hours. The four attractive, unmarked, blue eggs are mostly incubated by the female for about 12 days. They young mostly leave the nest when two weeks old.

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Where to find American Robins in Alberta   

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