The Joy of a Robin

American Robin

American Robin

Having grown up in America, I have been fortunate to have had the American Robin in sight my whole life.  It gave me a smile, then, to witness a British birding couple experiencing it for the first time.


It is a bright orange-breasted ten inch bird, not too hard to miss.  They don’t zoom like hummingbirds or soar majestically like hawks.  They don’t flit around in 200 foot high canopies, impossible to see.  Robins usually forage close to the ground and move in short and steady hops, giggling loudly or better yet, singing melodiously.  Furthermore, many Americans are taught from the age of two to recognize the Robin, that’s how we learned what “R” was.  That illustration of the robin tugging a worm out of the earth is burned into our little brains.  It is one of the most recognizable and easily identified birds in our world.


I was literally focusing on a different bird, binoculars to my eyes.  Then in a sing-song voice I heard a woman enthusiastically proclaim, “Why, I do believe it’s an American Raw-bin!”


This made me curious.  I removed my binoculars, saw a petite woman standing beside a man I assumed was her husband, and they were both intently studying the robin through their binoculars.  This bird, I realized, was exotic to them.  I found their excitement endearing.


Even though that short incident happened over five years ago, I can still hear that British woman in my mind, appreciate her fresh enthusiasm and genuine pleasure.  Every creature, I am reminded, is special.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


23 thoughts on “The Joy of a Robin

  1. I grew up on the east coast and they’re very common there–I see none in California. I miss them. I love the way they would march across the yard, head up, chest out, and every few steps bob down to the ground to peck for worms. 🙂

    • I think you might be remembering an east coast robin behavior (which I too really like) because we have lots and lots of robins here in California, especially in winter. The Birds of North America online reference from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that Calif. has the biggest population of robins in the U.S. Next winter look for flocks of 100+ overhead, you might be delighted. Really nice to hear from you, MIchael. 🙂

  2. Our winter in Illinois has been so long this year, that I was tempted to kiss the first robin of spring. Never was a sighting more appreciated! Your fan. N

    • It’s a big responsibility those robins have of ushering in the spring, especially after such a brutal winter. There are probably robins hopping around with lipstick markings on their necks, ha. Thanks Nan!

  3. To us in America, where Robins are so plentiful, they seem commonplace and not always worthy of being notice. Except in the Spring. You might say, (excuse the pun) “We don’t see the Robins for the trees……”

  4. What a wonderful story! All too often we exchange the beauty of the familiar for the lure of the exotic. It’s a poor exchange, for the exotic doesn’t live here, and seldom lingers long.

    • You might be surprised to know there are lots of robins here in California. I see them in flocks of 100+ in some winters, but not all winters. It’s a spectacular sight to look up and see all those red breasts. Maybe we’ll get a good show next winter. So glad you stopped by Russel.

      • Oh, I know they are here in California but they aren’t photogenic when Russel Ray is around. Same thing with dragonflies. I have seen three dragonflies in San Diego in 21 years…… 😦

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