May 2017 Bird Photo of the Month

Just passing through for breakfast © Yvonne Tso
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Flocks of American Robins show up in Florida November-February chattering loudly together in the tops of trees to roost or feed on fruit-laden, low branches. They love those bright red berries on Brazilian Peppers which we find all too common, and unfortunately spread across the countryside after they’ve eaten and released not fully digested seeds.  One study found 50% of the fruit removed from a bush was dispersed: 20% dropped, 40% regurgitated or defecated before leaving the bush. Thus, robins help the Brazilian Pepper to be an invasive plant covering all disturbed areas easily, crowding out every plant and eventually taking over acres if allowed. Robins, but not as often as up North, also forage on the ground in Florida cocking their heads, looking and listening for worms and other insects, then, pluck them adeptly.

Robins are one of the top three most abundant birds in America, breeding in every continental state (only northern-most Florida), including Alaska. They thrive because of their varied diet, not all migrating, guided to where they find food but not tied to rigid migratory routes like some species. To protect themselves from predators, they migrate in flocks in the daytime so are  not killed by night-flying into lighted buildings, towers and wind turbines which many songbirds do. Robins have adapted to humans so well in our yards as well as forests. Thus, the American Robin may be the most recognizable, common bird species in America; certainly, a favorite songbird, cheered by its loud, familiar, chirping call.

Emerging from their “Robin-egg blue” eggs, in 3 months the juvenile grows multitudinous black speckled feathered breasts. Yet loses those spots in molt in Fall. There really are differences between males and females.  Males’ head darken blacker including throat stripes. Their breast becomes more deep red-orange than females that have a larger white area under tail. In contrast, with the deep orange breast on this male, observe his delicate white feather-tipped spots, indicative of fresh new feathers, prepared for his 500-1200 km migration return to his breeding grounds.

Juanita Baker, Coordinator
Florida Bird Photo of the Month
Pelican Island Audubon Society  

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