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Is It the Same Robin?

They nest year after year. Are they the same robins?

Autumn brings robins to feed on tree fruit and berries. Are the robins you see now the same robins that you saw in your garden last summer? Some robins do remain year 'round. Others spend only the winter, having nested farther north. John James Audubon may have been the first to band birds, in order to learn more about migration. You can learn more about banding birds from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Support for BirdNote comes from Bloomsbury - a publisher of natural history books and birding guides. “Critical Critters” by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy is available now.

Full Transcript


How Long Does a Robin Live?
Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote.

[American Robin singing and definite spring ambient]

Let’s assume for a moment that you have a yard that a pair of robins has nested in for 12 years. You may be surprised to learn that it hasn’t always been the same pair! Mortality rate is high in our familiar songbirds. For robins, it’s around 50% each year once young birds have fledged.

If a robin survives to midwinter, it lives an average of 1.7 years after that. The oldest robins in your yard might be about six years old, although one banded bird lived almost 14 years. [sounds of winter wind ]
So in a dozen years you've probably had at least a half-dozen robins of each sex involved in nesting. [Different song of robin and calls]

Robins and most other migratory birds don't maintain their pair bonds over the winter, so they mate anew each spring. But if the same male and female return to the same territory, they are very likely to mate again.

If the male has died, another male will likely take over the territory, and the living female may mate with him. Similarly, if the female has died, a new female will mate with the resident male. They may nest in the same shrub, if it's a favorable nesting spot, and to our eyes it looks as if the same pair of robins has returned. [More robin song]

To learn more, come to I’m Mary McCann.


Call of the American Robin provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song recorded by W.L. Hershberger. Call by R.S. Little.
Ambient recording by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2016 Tune In to     

ID# AMRO-10         AMRO-10-2010-03-23-MM

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