American Robin

From Ohio History Central
American Robin.jpg

With changes in Ohio's landscape, the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) expanded its range into Ohio. It is considered a symbol of the coming of spring. However, they can be seen in Ohio year-round, roosting in the state during winter, especially in southern parts of the state. As the weather warms and daylight increases, they are one of the first birds to begin singing their whistled phrase, "cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up" in the morning.

Their nesting period ranges from March through June, producing 2-3 broods per year with 3-4 young per clutch. The monogamous pair shares responsibility in providing food for the altricial young. A typical diet for robins includes insects, worms, berries and fruit. The young will stay in the nest for approximately thirteen days before leaving as fledglings. The young will eventually reach an adult body length of 9-11 inches, weighing 2.7 ounces.

Because of Ohio's thick forests, American robins were not common during early settlement. They were seen in areas where settlers had cleared the land of trees and either left it open or planted orchards. One of the earliest records of the American Robin in Ohio is Moravian missionary David Zeisberger's journal entry in 1779-1780, "the black-bird [robin] has a reddish breast and its wings and back are ash-colored. Its song may be heard in wild regions and deserts."

As forests were cleared to make room for farms, robin populations jumped. By the mid-1800s, robins were common summer residents of the state.

Robin populations changed yearly, often because of harsh winters. The extensive use of pesticides in the 1950s and 60s caused numbers to fall dramatically. After the use of these pesticides was banned, their numbers began to increase.

Today robins can be found throughout Ohio in grassy habitats with shade trees, especially lawns in cities, towns, and farmlands.

See Also


  1. Hulbert, Archer B., and Schwarze, William N., eds. David Zeisberger's History of the North American Indians. Columbus, OH: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1910. 
  2. Peterjohn, John. The Birds of Ohio; Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN; 1989.