What Do Robins Eat? Robins are classified as members of the chat family, which constitutes a large number of small insect-eating birds. Robins are generally omnivores, with insects and worms making up most of their diet. They also eat small reptiles and amphibians. A smaller percentage of the robin diet comprises berries and other fruits. This article will be focused on dissecting what the different robin species eat.
What Do Robins Eat?
|Type of Robin||Binomial Name||Diet|
|American Robin||Turdus migratorius||Insects, worms, small reptiles, amphibians, berries, and fruits.|
|European Robin||Erithacus rubecula||Worms, insects (mealworms, beetles), fruits, berries, raisins, and sunflower hearts.|
|Swynnerton’s Robin||Swynnertonia swynnertoni||Ants, beetles, wasps, termites, frogs and fruits.|
|Kalahari Scrub Robin||Cercotrichas paena||Beetles, ants, termites, moths, butterflies, larvae, bugs, spiders, mantids, and grasshoppers|
|Seychelles Magpie Robin||Copsychus sechellarum||Insects, small invertebrates, fish, small mice, and fruits,|
|Collared bush robin||Tarsiger johnstoniae||Insects and caterpillars.|
Types of Robins
When a regular person visualizes a robin in their head, they most likely see a relatively small-sized dark bird with reddish-orange breast feathers—a typically American robin, the most common bird species in North America, with an estimated population of around 370 million. However, some people might not know that there are over 100 other robins, each with their similarities and differences regarding taxonomic classification (though they all fall under the Passeriformes order), physical appearance distribution, and much more.
- Specifically, the American Robin belongs to the genus Turdus – colloquially known as the “true thrushes” of the family Turdidae, which includes some other robins as well, such as the rufous-backed robin and the clay-colored robin.
- The family Petroicidae is typically called the “Australasian robins“, which includes 50 species of robins, flyrobins, and scrub-robins. As the name suggests, these birds are all native to the region of Australasia (which includes Australia, New Zealand, and some closeby islands, such as New Guinea, Samoa, and more). Some of the more popular robin species within this family include the scarlet robin, flame robin, and red-capped robin.
- The final leading taxonomic group that includes robins comes from the subfamily Saxicolinae – commonly known as “Old World chats“, containing over 30 different genera of the Muscicapidae family, including the infamous European robin, in addition to many species of bush-robins, magpie-robins, robin-chats, and much more.
- It is worth noting that the birds of this subfamily were initially considered to be thrushes of the family Turdidae (like the American robin). Some popular robin species of this subfamily include the European robin, as mentioned before, the cape robin-chat, and the oriental magpie-robin.
- Lastly, it is worth mentioning that a few bird species are known as “robins“, but do not fall under the three categories mentioned above. Some examples of these birds include the Pekin robin and the robin accentor.
The six species studied in this article include the American robin, European robin, Swynnerton’s robin, Kalahari scrub robin, Seychelles Magpie robin, and Johnstone’s robin.
What Do American Robins Eat?
The American robins are omnivores. They are critical predators of insects, worms, small reptiles, and amphibians. These birds also eat berries and fruits. About 80% of their diet is drawn from insects and worms, while the other 20% is obtained from plant matter.
Hunting techniques: American robins hunt on meadows, lawns, and fields. Their hunting technique is standing still and turning their heads, cocked on one side as if they listen to the prey on the ground. Research has shown that they can hear their prey and then use their strong eyesight to identify its location.
Where can it be spotted? The American robin is a familiar sight across North America. However, they are more common in the eastern parts of North America. They are commonly seen in parks, yards, and fields during summer and spring when they forage earthworms on the ground.
What Do European Robins Eat?
The European robin is an omnivore. Its diet includes worms, insects, fruits, berries, and seeds. About 70% of the European robin’s diet comprises mealworms and insects (mainly beetles). The other 30% of their diet comprises seeds, fruits, raisins, and sunflower hearts.
Hunting techniques: The European robin hunts by digging in the ground to find mealworms. Their good sense of hearing helps them dig for worms in places where they can hear their sound vibrations. European robin digging is common in spring when the ground has thawed and summertime. When worms and insects are unavailable in winter, European robins display frugivory tendencies.
Where can it be spotted? The European robin can be spotted throughout Europe, except in western Siberia and Russia.
What Do Swynnerton’s Robins Eat?
The Swynnerton’s robins are primarily carnivorous, including insects such as ants, beetles, wasps, and termites. A previous study confirmed that these birds consumed insects categorized under the Order Plecoptera. They have also been documented to consume frogs and fruits. Insects make up about 80% of their diet. They draw the rest of their nutrients from consuming fruits.
Hunting techniques: The Swynnerton’s robins hunt for insects on the forest floors, where they toss leaf litter, and then they capture whatever they can. They at times stalk army ant swarms and capture fleeing insects. They also hawk insects aerially.
Where can it be spotted? The Swynnerton’s robins can be spotted in some of the mountainous ranges of Tanzania (east Usambara and Udzungwa mountains), Mozambique (Mount Mabu), and Zimbabwe (Bvumba mountains). This bird can also be found in moist lowland forests. This bird favors the dense undergrowth in forests.
What Do Kalahari Scrub Robins Eat?
The Kalahari-scrub robin is omnivorous. It is mainly insectivorous. Its diet includes beetles, ants, termites, moths, butterflies, larvae, bugs, mantids, and grasshoppers. This bird also eats spiders. About 90% of their diet is composed of insects. The other 10% is supplemented by plant matter.
Hunting techniques: The Kalahari-scrub robin often forages on the ground, where it stalks and catches its preferred prey.
Where can it be spotted? As suggested by its name, the Kalahari-scrub robin is endemic to the southern parts of Africa in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Northern South Africa. In these countries, the Kalahari-scrub robin is likely to be found in woodland edges, sand veld, and human-altered locations such as gardens.
What Do Seychelles Magpie Robins Eat?
The Seychelles Magpie robins are mainly carnivorous. They consume insects, other small invertebrates, fish dropped by seabirds, and small mice, which make up about 90% of their diet. A smaller portion of their diet (10%) is fruit.
Hunting techniques: Seychelles Magpie robin prefers living in lowland forests where it can capture lizards and insects. However, these birds also move along with giant tortoises, which is strategic because these reptiles uncover this robin’s preferred prey as they lumber through the forest undergrowth and woods.
Where can it be spotted? The Seychelles Magpie robin species can be spotted in different parts of the Seychelles Islands, including Fregate Islands.
What Do Collared Bush Robins Eat?
Also known as Johnstone‘s robins are primarily carnivorous. About 80% of these robins’ diet is composed of insects and caterpillars.
Hunting techniques: The collared bush robin will commonly be seen hopping on Taiwanese montane habitats foraging on the ground for food. This bird will often stalk insects before catching, killing, and eating them. These birds often hunt solitarily. During the winter season, a majority of these birds take their winter rest. However, it is worth noting that a few birds will be seen on the Montane highways looking for food despite the harsh cold winter. During spring, flocks of Johnstone’s robins foraging on the ground are a common sight in the Montane forests.
Where can it be spotted? The Collared bush robin is endemic in Taiwan, particularly on the island’s montane and sub-alpine forests. This bird will commonly be spotted in regions bordering Mount Yushan, Hehuan, and Ali.
When Do Robins Eat?
Robins are primarily diurnal.
- Interestingly, researchers are puzzled by the nocturnal singing portrayed by this bird. Some researchers have established that robins are some of the most sensitive animals to light, which explains why they are likely to be heard singing the whole night, especially in urban areas.
- These robin birds will also be spotted hunting insects attracted to the artificial urban lights. Therefore, some conclude that their nocturnal behavior is promulgated by night lights, giving robins the impression that it is still daytime.
How Much Do Robins Eat?
Robins can hunt and eat up to 20 earthworms an hour. Interestingly, a young robin was previously documented to eat 14 feet of worms in one day.
How Often Do Robins Eat?
Robins will tend to the east as often as possible as long as they can meet their daily threshold. When their preferred food source is scarce during winter, these birds eat fruits and berries. In general, many winter bird species conserve body water and heat during winter. So they consume less food in this period.
What Eats Robins?
Fewer species feed on the adult members. The eggs and juveniles are threatened by many organisms. Some of the robin predators of the species studied above include the following.
- American Robin: Hawks, cats, and snakes.
- European Robin: Birds of prey, dogs, and domestic cats.
- Swynnerton’s Robin: Predation on adult robins has not been adequately documented; however, eggs and juvenile members are preyed upon by snakes, terrestrial carnivores, and some birds of prey.
- Seychelles Magpie Robin: Native Wright’s skink and some endemic snake species.
- Kalahari-scrub Robin: Snakes are the most notorious predators of this bird’s eggs and juveniles.
Role in Animal Food Chain
Old-World robins are mainly insectivorous. By feeding on insects, these birds play an imperative role in controlling these organisms’ local populations within their ecosystems. Additionally, robins and their eggs provide a great source of protein to their natural predators, who include but are not limited to raccoons, rodents, snakes, cats, dogs, foxes, and large birds of prey.
Do robins eat bread?
Yes, robins do and can eat bread. But, unfortunately, as much as they love such kinds of food, they do not provide them with the nutrition they need.
Do robins have courtship feeding?
Yes, robins engage in courtship feeding, where the male species provides over a third of its mate’s food when in the process of building nests and laying eggs.
How do baby robins get their food?
When the eggs are hatched and young robins emerge, the task for the parents begins, at least for the next few weeks. Both parents share the role of feeding their young ones, a task that can last for up to three weeks. At the lapse of this period, juvenile robins are independent and can fend for themselves. In this regard, orphaned robins tend to have low chances of surviving.
Robins are passerine birds that are endemic to diverse habitats around the world. Most of these birds are commonly spotted in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some robin species were previously considered vulnerable, but conservation efforts restored their numbers.
While some species are still on the brink of extinction, it is becoming increasingly important to promote awareness among human populations regarding the critical role these birds play in the ecosystem. The above content is one of the many ways of promoting understanding of robins and why conserving is vital for the present and future.