When I first saw an american robin, I thought it looked rare and declared right away that I would always find the species exciting. Nowadays, I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep that promise as the american robin is one of the most common birds in British Columbia. However when I stop and think about that day when I first saw a robin, I remember just how beautiful a robin can look, standing on the lawn with the sun on its back and a worm hanging out of its beak.They are graceful creatures and always stand tall, preferring the ground to the trees. You can find them here at any time of the year, though only during the summer further north. In the spring, they will be found getting literally drunk on honeysuckle berries and in the winter, you can find them parading around holly bushes, just like the european robins on Christmas cards.
I am writing this just after a couple of weeks of snow. On one of the days that it was snowing, I went on run by Elgin Heratige park and was surprised when almost every tree had a flock of about ten american robins in it. It was like something out of a Christmas card!
I was reading the book “backyard bird feeding bonanza” by Jerry Baker earlier this year. I have not tried it myself but according to the book, you can have robins nesting in your garden by simply sticking a shelf to your fence. Ask me in the comments for more directions or get the book out of your local library. The book also has other tips and things to make for all sorts of birds and is overall a great read. The only problem I found is that it is not based around British Columbia.
- Although american robins have the same red and brown colouring as european robins, they are not actually related in any way. This is why the robins on Christmas cards look short and stout while the robins on garden lawns are slender like the thrushes they are. The story that some birders have decided on is that the Europeans must have had a hard journey from England to Canada so when they arrived and saw a bird that looked somewhat similar to a robin back home, they immediately assumed that it was just that. To this day, nobody has ever bothered to change the name. I suppose they must have decided that american robin sounds way more exciting than american thrush, seeing as you get many thrushes in America.
- I have learnt recently that our american robins are in fact migratory birds. We get one subspecies during the winter and another in the summer, even though it is obviously survivable for both species. This is why you may see a dull robin with more browns than reds during the winter which you might have previously thought of as some other thrush or a robin that changes its coat in the same way as a goldfinch.
- All thrushes have a similar build to the american robin but the thrush that I think looks most similar is the varied thrush. The varied thrush can also be found near where I live but is much less common and does not flock, although you can sometimes find one hanging out with a flock of robins. While the pictures of a varied thrushes look extremely different to those of american robins, it can still be difficult to tell them apart in the wild as both can look red on the front and brown on the back. A tip to telling them apart from close up is to look at their eyes. The varied thrush has a dark stripe through the eye and the rest of the face is orange while the entire head on an american robin is brown and only the chest is red.
This picture was taken by my mother during the snow that I mentioned in the “my experience” section. The american robin is in a tree outside my house, eating berries as the worms and other food sources have been covered in snow. In my opinion, this picture looks like it could belong on a Christmas card.