How to Attract Robins to Your Yard or Garden

Meet the orange-breasted early bird that greets spring with a song.

When you hear an American robin’s light, musical cheerily, cheerio, it means spring is at your doorstep. As the ground thaws and worms break through the surface, robins, members of the thrush family, become more active and present in your yard. But you can attract robins to your yard even when it’s snowing, gobbling up berries from shrubs and trees. Occasionally, you may notice a robin that looks slightly uncoordinated. That’s because it gorged itself on overripe berries and is a bit tipsy!

Robins are common sights in backyards throughout most of North America. Attract robins to your yard and they will happily nest in planters, on windowsills, and in other nooks and crannies around a building. In spring, look for pairs hopping around your backyard. Both males and females have 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.

In a robin couple, the female builds the cup-like nest with mud as its foundation and lines it with grasses, twigs and other plant material. She typically lays four bright blue eggs and incubates them for about two weeks. Both parents feed the young, which have dark-spotted breasts rather than red ones. Robins raise up to three or more broods a year, especially in the southern part of the United States. 

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. Robins eat berries year-round, so attract them to your yard with trees that bear fruit in winter such as chokecherry, hawthorn and dogwood. You can also create small piles of leaf litter around your yard. 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.” Watch for these classic birds in your yard, no matter what the weather is like.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”

 

Sheryl DeVore
Sheryl DeVore is a science, nature, health and social Issues writer, editor, educator and wild birds expert.