American Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Pictures: (click for larger images)

An American Robin outside a dorm window.  Photo by Bobby Walsh. 5/4/04
Not a very good picture, but this is an American Robin who was perched in the top of a tree on Bruin Walk, singing. Photo by Jason Finley, 3/1/05
Finally a detailed picture of a Robin on campus!  This guy appeared on the small grassy lawn at Stone Canyon creek, and hopped around confidently, gobbling worms. Photo by Jason Finley, 5/6/06
American Robin illustration.

-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.

Description: Medium. 10" in length (beak to tail), slightly smaller than a pigeon.  Brownish-gray back & wings, reddish-orange underneath.  Dark head with white above and below eye.  Yellow beak.

Sound: "Loud, liquid song is a variable cheerily cheer-up cheerio.  Calls include a rapid tut tut tut and a high, thin ssip in flight." (National Geograhic Field Guide)  Listen to an American Robin singing!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Rare, year-round.  Probably more likely in the Winter.

Location: I've only seen one on campus for sure twice: once singing in a tree on Bruin Walk in front of Kerckhoff, and once flying overhead on the slopes around the Janss Steps.  I also may have seen one in the Saxon Suites (dorms) a few years ago.  Bobby Walsh, another birder on campus, saw one outside his dorm window.

Notes: The American Robin is common and widespread throughout the U.S., but we don't seem to get many at all here on the UCLA campus.  There are probably more to be found in the wilder areas around L.A. (e.g. the canyons and mountains), or perhaps in the larger parks.  They apparently like large grassy lawns, where they can be seen with their heads cocked, hunting for earthworms.

Historical Dr. Loye Miller wrote about the Western Robin, as it was known in 1947:

Thus far, the Robins visit the campus only in winter (October to March) and have never been recorded in great numbers.  Should we develop large areas of lawn in the coming years, I see no reason why we should not attract a few of them as nesting birds.  Just exactly that has occurred on the Berkeley campus during the past fifty years.  Also, they are beginning to nest about certain golf links in Pasadena.

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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