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280 days of Urbpandemonium #79

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5 fact-like statements about the American robin Turdus migratorius*:

1. Named after the European robin Erithacus rubecula**, a smaller unrelated songbird, due to a single visual field marking (red breast) and similar habitat related behavior--they both are unusually tolerant of human behavior and human-caused habitat disturbances.

2. Every year someone tells me they saw the "first robin of spring" and I have to choose between nodding politely or giving them a natural history lecture. In Boston there is a stable population of robins that do not migrate--the city provides year round food and habitat. In some parts of North America the robins herald the arrival of autumn.

3. Since earthworms didn't arrive in New England until European colonists did (with ships loaded with ballast soil), what the hell did robins eat before then? Probably there were a hell of a lot fewer of them, and they ate more beetle grubs and caterpillars in the spring. In the autumn they eat fruit.

4. Robins have about a 25% survival rate per chick per clutch. Since they love to nest near humans and our buildings, we encounter robin fledglings that are injured or dead more than many other birds. This is okay. If all the babies survived, they would only lay 1 egg per nest, twice a year. They lay an average of 4 per clutch.

5. The one in these pictures was having difficulty flying. It was unclear if it was a fledgling with mature plumage or an adult suffering from some injury. It's also none of my business. I grabbed it up and put it over the fence in our brush pile so the dogs wouldn't kill it.

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* "Migratory thrush." I've long thought it's name should be the "yard thrush," or the "suburbs thrush."

** "Little red robin." A bit on the nose, don't you think?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2015 09:52 pm (UTC)
"Yard thrush" would be a great name.

I'm bemused by people in my area who talk about the first robin of spring. I feel like shouting, "YOU DIDN'T NOTICE THEM ALL WINTER LONG IN THE BUSHES ALONG THE ROADS, IN YOUR BACKYARDS, ETC??" Because obviously they didn't, so, okay.
Jun. 28th, 2015 02:56 am (UTC)
that pic of you just grabbing that robin cracks me up.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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