Wake Up Early to Listen for a Robin Bird Song

Updated: Feb. 08, 2024

Robins start singing even before sunrise. Learn what a robin bird song sounds like and when you should listen for these musical early birds.

Bnbbyc19 Pat Shaw 1Courtesy Pat Shaw
American robin singing in a flowering crabapple tree

Even if it’s still dark outside and you can’t see a bird in your yard, you may wake up and hear a robin bird call. The American robin shares the musical talents of its thrush family. You’ll need to be an early bird yourself to hear their daybreak concert. 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. Learn how to attract robins.

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 bird call, a light, musical cheerily, cheerio, it means spring is at your doorstep.  Do robins migrate and return in the spring?

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The robin bird song is rich and varied, like caroling. Backyard birders love to hear them sing. “My favorite bird call has to be the robin. Its song was the first one I learned as a little girl in Massachusetts,” says Carolyn Hopper of Bozeman, Montana.

Next, learn what a cardinal’s call sounds like.