American Robin

American Robin
Photo: Inge Curtis

Early colonists in North America who felt homesick called some of the birds they saw by the names of those they grew up with 3,000 miles away—blackbirds, goldfinches, robins, et cetera—although not necessarily related and have different habits and songs.

Take, for example, the American Robin. It belongs to the thrush family whereas robins across the Pond are insectivores, more closely related to the nightingale (both formerly classified as thrushes). It’s a bigger bird than the European and has an orange breast instead of red (hence in Germany Rotkehlchen, France rouge-gorge, and Britain robin redbreast). Both are fairly trusting of humans and abundant in gardens and parks. In Britain, the robin became associated with Christmas, often featuring on greeting cards (see Christmas Birds in Archive for December 2013).

By Roger Gosden

A British and American scientist specializing in reproduction & embryology whose career spanned from Cambridge to Cornell's Weill Medical College in NYC. He married Lucinda Veeck, the embryologist for the first successful IVF team in America. They retired to Virginia, where he became a master naturalist and writer affiliated with William & Mary.

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