Turdus migratorius

Physical characteristics: The American robin has a range in length of 9.8 to 11 inches (25 to 28 centimeters). Males weigh an average of 2.1 to 3.2 ounces (59 to 91 grams); females weigh between 2.5 to 3.3 ounces (72 to 94 grams), and thus are usually larger than males. Both males and females have dark, brownish gray upperparts. Males have black heads and females have heads that are black and brownish gray. Eye rings are white; bills are yellow; and breasts are brick red in the male and chestnut-orange in the female. The lower belly and undertail feathers are white. The tail is dark with white outer corners. Young birds look similar to adults but have white markings on their backs and shoulders, and heavy spotting on their underparts.

Geographic range: The American robin can be found throughout Canada, Alaska, the United States, and Mexico. It winters south of its breeding range, usually in the Bahamas and Guatemala.

Habitat: The American robin prefers to inhabit damp forests and woodlands throughout its territorial range, from the tundra to gardens, parks, in local shrubs, throughout farmland with hedges, and in scattered woods.

Diet: The American robin is an omnivore, feeding on fruits, berries, grass seeds, and many invertebrates including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, snails, spiders, and earthworms.

Behavior and reproduction: This bird is frequently seen feeding on the ground. Outside of breeding season, the birds create large roosts and flocks in winter. They breed between April and August, with their nests often being large and messy. Nests are made of grass, twigs, stems, and string, and lined with mud and fine grass. The female lays three to four bright blue eggs that are incubated for eleven to fourteen days. She has two broods during the season.

American robins and people: The American robin is a very common and easily recognized bird, often seen pulling earthworms up from lawns and gardens. It is significant to North American people as a popular sign of spring, and was once hunted for meat in the southern United States.

Conservation status: This species is not considered to be threatened. ■

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Alsop, Fred J. III. Birds of North America. Smithsonian Books. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2001.

Campbell, Brude, and Elizabeth Lack, eds. A Dictionary of Birds. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1985.

Fisher, James, and Roger Tory Peterson. The World of Birds. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964.

Web sites:

"All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, Eastern Bluebird." Discover Life in America. http://www.dlia.org/atbi/species/animals/vertebrates/birds (accessed on May 11, 2004).

"Family Turdidae (Thrushes)." Animal Diversity Web. http:// animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Turdidae. html (accessed on June 13, 2004).

Roberson, Don. "Thrushes, Turdidae." [email protected] Bay. http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/thrushes.html (accessed on May 11, 2004).

"Thrushes, Robins." Birds of the World. http://www.eeb.cornel.edu/ winkler/botw/turdidae.html (accessed on May 11, 2004).

BABBLERS Timaliidae

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Timaliidae

Number of species: About 280 species

CHAPTER

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Scientists have disagreed about what birds to include in this family. The group now includes birds having ten primary feathers (strong feathers at the tip of the wing), twelve retrices (RET-rihs-uhs), or tail feathers, and large, powerful legs and feet, which limit flight and restrict these birds to small foraging and nesting ranges. Babblers are diverse in coloring, size, habitat, and behavior. Though their colors are dull, some have vivid patterns. All of these birds have distinctive songs.

There are more than thirty tropical species; a dozen scimitar (SIH-muh-tur) babblers that have long curved bills, twenty wren-babblers, some parrotbills, and a few picathartes or rockfowl.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

With the exception of the picathartes, which evolved in Africa, most members of this family originated in Asia. Babblers can be found in regions of China, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Australia and New Guinea, Japan and the Philippines, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The only American species traces its roots to Asia as well.

HABITAT

Most babblers live in forested regions. A few adapted to desert and savanna (grassland) areas, and one species is semi-aquatic in a marsh environment.

DIET

Babblers feed mainly on insects, though some species will eat fruit, seeds, frogs, and reptiles, depending on their specific phylum class subclass order monotypic order suborder family habitats and the season of the year. The Arabian babbler, which lives in the desert where food is scarce, will eat almost anything.

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