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Robin, American
2008-04-03-181043

Described as “America’s favourite songbird”, the American robin (Turdus migratorius) is one of the most abundant, widespread and instantly recognisable birds in North America. It is popular for its warm orange breast and cheerful song, and as an early herald of spring. North America’s largest thrush species, the American robin is a relatively large songbird with a rounded body, long legs and a fairly long tail. The adult male is greyish-brown above, with rich orange underparts and a black and white streaked throat. The head is dark, with a contrasting white crescent above and below the eye, and there is a white patch on the lower belly. Some populations of the American robin have white tips to the otherwise dark tail. The beak of this species is yellow, often with a darker tip, and the legs and feet are brown. The female American robin is paler than the male, particularly on the head, and its white parts are more buff-coloured. Juveniles are distinguished by the large black spots on the breast, pale spots and streaks on the upperparts, an entirely white throat and a pinkish beak. The head is generally paler than in the adult, with less well-defined white crescents around the eyes, but there may be a buffy-white line above the eye. The American robin varies in size and colouration across its large range, and seven subspecies are recognised. The song of the American robin is a familiar sound of late winter and early spring in North America, and this species is usually one of the first birds to sing in the morning and one of the last to sing in the evening. Its musical song consists of a variable series of loud, rich, liquid-sounding syllables, each rising and falling in pitch and repeated at a steady rhythm, often described as ‘cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up’. The American robin also gives a variety of calls, including a spirited ‘cuck’, ‘chirp’, ‘chuck’ or ‘yeep’, as well as a repeated ‘chirr’ that rises in pitch and volume, sounding somewhat like a laugh. It also produces a high, thin, whining whistle.

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