The Robin Mating Habits
Different birds develop different habits and plumage during the breeding season. The adult robin males grow black feathers on their heads but these distinctive feathers disappear afterwards.
A common trait among male migratory birds is that they return to their summer breeding areas ahead of the females and then become competitive while searching for their nesting sites.
Robins are monogamous during the entire breeding season. But a female may look for a new mate if something happens to her first mate.
Courtship feeding is also done by robins. It’s a way to strengthen their bond. This stage benefits the females as she increases her weight without exerting effort in looking for food. Female robins need to eat more at this time to start the process of selecting her mate and later produce eggs.
Robins use the “treading” technique when mating. It is said to be a simple and short ritual that a person would be very lucky to observe it.
When the female robins choose their mates, they normally base their preference on the males’ songs, plumage and territory quality. Once she has selected a mate, the nest building follows with the female taking charge. The construction starts in late March or early April. The female robin lays an average of two to four eggs at a time and incubates them for 11 to 14 days. Upon hatching, the nestlings are still featherless and their eyes closed for five days.
In feeding the young, both the male and female robins assume responsibility. They feed their nestlings with earthworms, insects and berries. Both parents are very protective of their young and feed them until they know how to fly by themselves. In protecting their offspring, adult robins emit alarm sounds and dive on predators like domestic cats, dogs and humans that may go near their nest.
By the time they are 15 to 16 days old, the young can already learn to fly on their own. Their wings develop so fast and it takes only about two weeks for them to learn to fly alone. Only 25 percent of juvenile robins survive their first year.
As for the American robin, it is capable of producing three broods in one year. Only about 40 percent of nests, though, are successful in producing young robins. Meanwhile, only 25 percent of the fledged young make it to November and about half of the birds that survive in any year will usually make it to the following year. A robin lives an average of six years although a lucky one can survive up to 14 years old.
The American robins stay in most of their breeding range even in winter. They’re rarely seen during this time since they don’t stay much in yards and gather in large flocks. Perhaps, this is one reason why the appearance of robins implies the onset of spring.