Do Robins Mate for Life? 10 Amazing Facts About These Loyal Birds

Written by Katie Downey
Published: November 14, 2023
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Robins are one of the telltale signs that spring has come. They are often greeted with happiness since their arrival means warmer weather is right around the corner. Many people have never pondered much beyond that notion. These pretty birds have love lives like many other species. After all, how else would robins continue to exist? Furthermore, how would anyone know that spring had arrived unless the robins told us? Let’s look into whether the cheerful robins mate for life, then see what other amazing facts we came up with.

The American Robin: Who They Are and Some Interesting Facts

American Robin Singing While Perched on a Backyard Light

American Robins are the first birds to begin the morning songs and sometimes the last to sing for the evening.

©RCKeller/iStock via Getty Images

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The American robin (Turdus migratorius) is one of the most recognizable species of birds in the U.S. They are easily identified by their orange breast, blackish-grey feathers, and white markings around their eyes. They are migratory, medium-sized songbirds who spend the spring and early summer in the northern states and fly south to Florida or Texas for the winter.

However, not all robins do this. Some stay wherever they deem it best, whether for the available prey or decent weather. All the robins in Canada fly south for the winter since it is cold and snowy there, and finding food can be problematic. Robins tend to fly to Canada and Alaska to mate but also do so in the U.S., as we all know very well by the blue eggshells found all over during the spring months.

Despite popular belief, robins do not hear earthworms underground when they tilt their heads in a seemingly listening position. They are looking for earthworms and find them only by sight. They aren’t just looking for earthworms; robins are opportunistic regarding insects and will eat most they spy on. Robins eat some berries and invertebrates, such as snails, spiders, and insects. They only feed their young earthworms or insects. This is one of the many reasons it is so harmful to put chemicals or pesticides on your lawn. The entire food chain is affected terribly.

Do Robins Mate for Life?

 american robin nesting with chicks

American Robin’s parents both care for the young.

©yvontrep/Shutterstock.com

American robins do not mate for life. The two lovebirds will stay together for the entire nesting season and may even return to the same area the following year and end up together again, but this isn’t always the case. In the bird’s short two-year life, every mating season could be spent with a different robin. The robin recorded as living the longest in the wild was 12 years. That is uncommon, and the average lifespan is two years.

During the mating season, the male robin helps with nest construction by bringing the female materials to build the cup-sized nursery. He also sings a “beware song” to chase off other birds and may even attack anyone he thinks could be a predator. Male and female robins defend the nest tirelessly and aggressively for such a small bird. When the time comes, father robins help with the babies and takes turns bringing them food. Once the fledglings are ready to begin their new lives as adults, the father will stay with them as the mother robin works on the next nest and batch of kids. That’s a lot more than most father birds do. The two may raise three or four broods a season before calling it quits.

A Few Closing Words

An American Robin is feeding one of its chicks in the nest on the side of a building. Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario, Canada.

American robins are good parents compared to many other types of birds.

©Paul Reeves Photography/Shutterstock.com

Even though the American robins may not have the forever love story you were hoping for, they have a pretty decent relationship and could end up together for all the mating seasons of their lives. No one knows for sure. They are excellent parents who do a great job protecting their nests, catching healthy meals for their offspring, and working together to care for the babies until they can fly off and start their own lives. That’s more than some humans do for their children!

In the winter, the robins live a nomadic lifestyle, bouncing from place to place in search of the best weather and the finest food selection. They often do this in large flocks. Sometimes, they are seen flying in these large flocks during the daytime.

As the climate continues to warm over time, robins will begin to forego the southern areas and move further and further north. The baby birds will die if temperatures are too hot in the spring. That isn’t the only negative effect they will feel by staying in the south; the earth will be too hot and dry for insects and invertebrates to survive.

A Few More Facts

  1. When robins roost in the winter, their numbers can be more than 100,000!
  2. The American robin is the state bird for Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
  3. Robins love berries, sweet cakes, bread, and fruits. Please don’t feed them harmful foods, though.
  4. If you see a robin falling or acting drunk, they might be. They will flock to eat fermented berries, which make them drunk!
  5. American robins are protected under the Migratory Bird Act and cannot be hunted.
  6. The American robin can carry the West Nile virus, which means it can spread to more mosquitos.
  7. Robins sometimes fight to the death, protecting their nests!
  8. Female robins are slightly duller colored than the males.
  9. During the mating season, the robin partners will always be seen together.
  10. Robins are such great parents that they’ve been caught feeding babies of other species!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Katie Downey is a writer for A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, arachnids and insects. Katie has been writing and researching animals for more than a decade. Katie worked in animal rescue and rehabilitation with handicapped cats and farm animals for many years. As a resident of North Carolina, Katie enjoys exploring nature with her son, educating others on the positive role that insects and spiders play in the ecosystem and raising jumping spiders.

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