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American Robin

Summary: American robins may become nuisances to people by tapping on reflective surfaces, such as windowpanes and mirrors. They may also wake people up very early in the morning because that is their favorite time to sing.

Wisconsin's claims the American robin as its state bird, but this bird can be found all over North America. The American robin is a songbird with a high-pitched, upbeat tune. The robin sings when it is hungry or to warn other robins against predators. It especially enjoys singing early in the morning, and is usually the first bird to do so at dawn. So, while you may be annoyed by a bird waking you, to other birds, it certainly is a Rockin' Robin.

The American robin is quite a large bird measuring between 8 and 11 inches in height, and having a wingspan of 12 to 16 inches. The main physical difference


between a male and female American robin is that the female usually has feathers that are paler in color. Both males and females have white moon-shaped patches surrounding their eyes. They have brown feathers and red or orange feathers on their breast. They have white feathers on their throat and near their tail, as well as a yellow bill.

Female robins guard the nest, while male robins assemble in roosts. There can be hundreds of thousands of robins in a single roost alone. That is one big party! Females join the males when they are done nesting.

American robins typically breed from April through July. The females make nests out of mud, twigs, grass, and feathers. American robins usually lay eggs two or three times each year, with about three to five eggs per brood. A new nest is built for each brood. Only about 40 percent of nests produce healthy young robins.

The eggs of a robin are about an inch in length and are blue. (This is where Crayola got the idea for the crayon called Robin's Egg Blue!) As with many other types of birds, there are albino robins. Partial albino robins can have pure white feathers and normal eye coloration. True albino robins, however, lack pigmentation in their eyes. This causes them to be blind at a very early age.

American robins like to eat fruit, berries, caterpillars, earthworms, beetle grubs, grasshoppers, and even small snakes. Their appetites change depending on the time of day. These robins each have an esophagus that widens in order for them to store food. The males and females both try to gather as much food as possible for their young chicks. They can feed the chicks up to one hundred times per day. And, humans complain when they have to get up once in the middle of the night to feed a new baby.

The average lifespan of an American robin is about six years. One robin was known to live for fourteen years, but this lifespan is extremely rare.


American robins like to fly around gardens, yards, and forest areas. You might see robins flying around your yard, searching for food, and returning home to their nests deep inside your trees or shrubs.

Now that you have some background on the American robin, you may be wondering why such an intricate bird could be a pest to you and your family. Well, the robin could eat any plants that you may be growing. Also, it could cause damage to your windshields, windowpanes, mirrors, and other reflective surfaces by pecking at them. They often build their nests in places you would prefer to remain nest-free.

If you discover a robin's nest on your property, a good suggestion is to leave it alone. If you move it, the mother robin may not return to the nest, not due to human handling, but because she does not associate the nest with the new surroundings.

There is a good chance that not all of the eggs in the nest will develop into young robins. If this is the case, the adult robins will dispose of the bad eggs after the others have hatched. So, if you physically move or touch the nest, the adult robins will not return and some of the eggs will go rotten. I guarantee you do not want that smell lingering in your backyard.

The good news is that the female robin only takes two weeks to incubate the eggs, and the young robins only take an additional two weeks to mature. They will then leave the nest, and the female robin will either build a new one or fly south for the winter. You can dispose of the nest as soon as the robins leave it. However, if you notice that the female robin begins to build a new nest, you should move it or knock it down before she hatches her eggs. Otherwise, you will have to repeat the cycle again.

Unfortunately, you are going to have to become a morning person for about a month because the robins will be singing bright and early to wake you up.

Ask Rick A Question


Eileen Kelly
24 Jan 2014, 13:59
An early arrival [third week of January 2014] of robins visit outside my office window daily. They eat the berries. One died and I think it was the one that was trying to eat a berry and might have choked or it died from the frigid temperatures. The weird thing was that it disappeared from the spot where it lay and the other robins kept on feeding. There were no footprints in the snow showing it was carried away by a human. What happened to it? Could the robins have moved it elsewhere? I read another comment of a similar experience, where a dead robin had been moved after a person had made sure it was dead and was in a different location not put there by the person who had found it dead.
21 Apr 2014, 12:08
We have robins taking over our truck. They hang out on it all day and their droppings are ruining our vehicle. We've tried parking the truck in the nearby park for a few days, but when we bring it back -- they find it again! We also tried an owl on the back of the truck while its parked there. I heard that birds don't like owls. Well these guys sit right next to it!!! Is there anything we can do to get rid of these birds?? I don't believe they are nesting, because there is no twigs, mud, straw on/near the truck. Please help!!
sareesa ortiz
25 Apr 2014, 02:43
A robin made a nest on my front porch light every time we open the door she flies away ... I was going to move nest but when we came home tonight there are four eggs.will the birds become agreesive once eggs hatch ? We have to use the door but I don't know what to expect once they hatch. I don't want myself or children getting attacked by them as we enter and exit the home.
27 Apr 2014, 11:09
Hi there. We had a robin build a next on a window sill of our home. There were 4 eggs in the nest but we noticed yesterday the eggs and the robin are now gone, and a second different style nest is being built right next to the first. I looked around on the ground for evidence of the eggs being attacked and saw nothing. It is possible she moved her eggs to a different nest? It seems unlikely but I can't see any other explanation. Thanks.
David Dandurand
05 May 2014, 12:16
We have a female robin who has issues. It has chosen my car to perch on It poops all over it completely covering windows doors and mirrors with a quater inch of poop .It will try to run up the windshield sliding down pooping all the way.I will scare it off it will fly to the ground and watch me untill i leave then back to were she was. how do i get rid of it short of killing it. i cant wash my car a dozen times a day .Thank You Dave
08 May 2014, 14:58
hi how are you
30 May 2014, 15:44
We have a robins nest and 3 eggs on our front step but neither robin has been back since which has been about 10 days? Will they live?
13 Jun 2014, 10:11
I've have the same problem CALLIE. It's been 5 days since the mother Robin has came back to her nest. I think the reason was we cut down several shrubs beside the next, but her nest is up high on our porch. Not sure what to do either, or if the babies will live???
14 Jun 2014, 13:54
we have a nest of baby robins in our kids tree house. they have grown over the last week but the are no longer chirping. Do you think the mother left them?
Greg Walz-Chojnacki
16 Jul 2014, 12:15
I, too have been annoyed by the incessant cheeping of a robin in my back yard.

It seems like an alarm call, but since its young have probably fledged a while ago (it's mid-July), I don't know what it's on about.

I'm happy to hear it singing at 5 in the morning, but the all-day cheeping is rather annoying.

Any idea what's inciting this behavior?
01 Sep 2014, 14:42
Robins are beautiful birds, in fact all birds are. The idea that any of you are complaining about them chirping or singing is completely absurd to me. I think you all need to learn to appreciate nature or go live somewhere without it. Try sleeping a night in NYC and then complain to me about noise. Give Thanks for these birds instead of attempting to exterminate them.
06 Apr 2015, 12:24
I have a pregnant Robin by our house. We have a window above our front door and if you were to look through the window from the outside you could see bushes because we have a ledge right below the window where we keep some fake grasses and bushes. She keeps banging on the window because we think she wants to nest there. How do we keep her away from the window. We are afraid she will get hurt from so much banging.
Ask the Exterminator
06 Apr 2015, 12:41
Robins are territorial. They see their reflection in the window and attack. The only way to resolve the issue is to cover the window to eliminate the reflection. Otherwise, let her bang away.
28 Apr 2015, 11:20
I don't know if it's OCD or what, but I find these beasts unbearable. I live in suburban Madison, Wisconsin, prime nesting area for a Robin and my home is surrounded by evergreens, which the birds seem to like for their nests (if they don't put it on top of my A/C or porch light). Males don't seem to gather much food as best I can tell, they mostly just sit somewhere within eyesight of the nest and make as much noise as they can, presumably to distract predators from the nest. They are the loudest, most persistent birds I've ever had the displeasure of listening to. The Cardinals are fine, even the nuisance sparrows don't bother me, but those Robins never shut up. 3am to 9pm, constant, constant warbling. The only good thing is that they suddenly stop in mid July, after a mere 3 months of squawking.
12 May 2015, 16:32
A robin has built her nest in the "fort" area of my kids' swingset. We moved her nest to a nearby tree, and she built another one. We moved that nest this morning to a birdhouse that my husband built right next to the swing-set. When I just checked, I saw that the bird had laid an egg in the swing-set fort despite the fact that the nest is no longer there. Now what do we do?
Ask the Exterminator
13 May 2015, 13:48
Do nothing. She will either attend to the egg or abandon it. Robins continue to lay eggs until they create a successful nest.
Scott E
19 May 2015, 11:39
I have a nest on a wreath on my front door. The Robin laid the eggs about three weeks ago. during that time I've done a bunch of yardwork which has kept her away from her nest quite a bit. it does not appear that they will hatch now but she is starting to put more nest material over top of the eggs. Should I remove those eggs so that she can lay additional eggs?
20 May 2015, 07:48
The robin on our window sill has been sitting on her eggs 18 days now. Will they still hatch? Sometimes she just stands on the edge of the nest looking at the eggs.
Ask the Exterminator
27 May 2015, 17:15
Time will tell.
28 May 2015, 16:21
We have a Robin that continues to aggressively dive bomb us every time we try to go in our backyard. This makes it impossible to use our backyard. We have been very patient and waited until she laid her eggs and raised her babies. All the babies have now flown away and the nest is empty. However this Robin is still out there and continues to dive bomb us! What can we do to get this bird to move on and get our backyard back? This is the second year we had to tolerate being dive bombed and we would like to reclaim our yard a w/out needing protection.
Ask the Exterminator
29 May 2015, 09:24
If possible, stay out of the area of the nest. Use another door, move lawn furniture or children's toys to a different location in the yard, etc.

For short journeys into the bird's territory, carry an open umbrella to discourage the birds.

For longer periods in the vicinity of a protective parent bird, use a helium-filled Mylar balloon tied to a belt or hat, and extended two or three feet above the head. The movement of the balloon will frighten the bird.
CG Brittain
29 May 2015, 12:01
The American Robin is one of my favorite birds. They are brave, hard working and quintessentially American. However I understand that not everyone feels the same. When any bird builds a nest near your door, window, swing set , etc. the best plan is none at all. Nature has its own intelligence and birds generally do their work without our assistance. When feeding their babies mom & dad are out scaring up grub 14-16 hours per day, often passing each other going in and out of the nest. Within a couple of weeks the fledglings will be gone. Unlike the American Teenager. Just sayin
31 May 2015, 14:50
We had Four American robin babies in the nest - and they growing bigger and bigger, and today its only two of them .The nest is build in the rhododendron bush , don't see them around on a ground... Maybe parents hide them ... after they fell of the nest ? Hope they are safe. Any idea of the possibility of their survival ?
17 Jun 2015, 17:26
for the last 3 weeks I have had a Red Robin here in Wisconsin, on my porch with a nest on top of a ladder leaning against my house. The eggs have now hatched and every single time I walk out my back door I am attacked by what I believe is the mother and father, is there anything I can do or should I just wait it out?
Ask the Exterminator
17 Jun 2015, 17:31
You're going to have to wait until the babies leave the nest. Then, never let a bird build a nest there again.
15 Jul 2015, 22:43
Found an nest on the ground after a windstorm. There was 1 hatched baby, 1 almost out of egg baby and 1 egg cracked. My son said momma bird was just there--so I put the 3 back in the nest...and tried to move it close--but out of harms way. I live in Chicago, and the nest was not safe. I tried my window sill, which was actually not far from the nest. Not sure if I gave it enough time, but momma was not coming back. I then decided to move the nest back to where the nest was laying on the ground--just to see if momma would come back. She did. We let her do her thing. For safety reasons, we out a small fence around the nest...and I was slowly moving the nest closer to my house--and my goal was to get the nest into a small flowering tree. About 8 feet away. Took 4 hours--I got the nest right next to the small tree (on the ground)....momma had been coming back feeding her babies--and even removed the non-viable egg. I moved the nest up about 2.5 feet...but have not seen momma in awhile. It's almost 10pm. I could attempt to get a ladder out and try to get it back in the tree--but even so--it would not be near where it was originally. Advice on what to do?
Ask the Exterminator
16 Jul 2015, 09:57
You are fighting Mother Nature. Bird nests occasionally fall from trees. Either the parent birds continues to come to the nest, or not. If not, the baby birds become food for other babies of predators. Let nature that its course.
16 Jul 2015, 10:37
13 hours later....still unsure about mom--but one baby bird is still alive. the other baby i cannot tell--as this one barely out of shell. is this a good sign the parents are nearby?
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