How to Attract Robins to Your Yard or Garden
Meet the orange-breasted early bird that greets spring with a song. Learn how to identify and attract robins with their favorite foods.
Courtesy Ozzie Vannucci
American robins are common sights in backyards throughout most of North America. Watch for these classic birds in your yard, no matter what the weather is like. As the ground thaws and worms break through the surface, robins, members of the thrush family, become more active and visible. But you can attract robins to your yard even when it’s snowing. In winter, flocks of robins gobble up berries from shrubs and trees.
What Does a Robin Look Like?
In spring, look for pairs of robins hopping around. Both males and females are gray-brown birds with yellow bills and orange breasts, but the male’s head is usually darker than the female’s. Robins in the eastern part of the United States show white spots in the outer corners of their tails while in flight.
How to Attract Robins: What Do Robins Eat?
Robins are not seed eaters, so you won’t attract them with bird feeders. Instead, look for them on the ground. The next time you observe an American robin in your yard, notice how they curiously tilt their heads. They do this to listen for juicy worms. Robins use both visual and auditory clues to hunt down their favorite slimy snack.
As the weather cools into fall, robins gather in flocks, sometimes up to tens of thousands, to roost together at night. They also make small migratory movements to find food. These birds eat berries year-round, so attract robins to your yard with trees that bear fruit in winter such as chokecherry, hawthorn and dogwood. Occasionally, you may notice a robin that looks slightly uncoordinated. That’s because it gorged itself on overripe berries and is a bit tipsy!
You can also create small piles of leaf litter around your yard to attract robins. According to the National Wildlife Federation, “Leaf litter is a natural habitat for many insects and gives insect and grub-eating birds such as robins, towhees and thrashers, hours of quality snack time.”
Listen for the Robin Bird Call
The American robin shares the musical talents of its thrush family. You’ll have to set your alarm for an hour or two before sunrise to catch the morning song of the American robin. Robins respond to a much lower level of light than other birds. Think of the light a single candle throws at a distance of 1 foot. Then divide that by 100. According to naturalist Aldo Leopold, that’s enough light—.01 candlepower—to inspire a robin to burst into song in springtime. Even the glow of sodium vapor streetlights may set robins singing long before dawn. When you hear an American robin’s light, musical cheerily, cheerio, it means spring is at your doorstep.
More Facts About Robins
- Robin’s egg blue became an iconic color thanks to Tiffany & Co.’s family jewelry boxes. Its trademarked, custom Pantone shade is No. 1837, the same year the company was founded.
- One Irish superstition says: “A wish made upon seeing the first robin in spring will come true, but only if you complete the wish before the robin flies away.”
- Robins do not nest in birdhouses. Learn more facts about robin nests and robin eggs.