Turdus migratorius

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Robin.JPG

Nest.JPG

Turdus migratorius – American robin, feathering his nest.

40 Comments

For the curious, “turdus” is the Latin word for “thrush.” Now stop snickering.

Damn. I was just about to make a migrating turd joke. Gilliam could have done a little animation link and everything.

This one’s kinda scruffy looking, no?

Paul Burnett said:

For the curious, “turdus” is the Latin word for “thrush.” Now stop snickering.

Thank you.

I love the robins! There was a mess of them in my apartment complex a few weeks ago having a party (migrating, I guess, but enjoying themselves). I like the way they run with lots of rapid short steps, like obese cartoon characters.

… “turdus” is the Latin word for “thrush.”

Thanks! I might add that my English brother-in-law, an expert twitcher, insists that they are not robins at all. He must be infecting influencing me, because I carefully described it as an American robin. I gather that the (European) robin is an entirely different bird.

We have a bunch nesting all around, and I most like the macho stuff all freaking summer long as the males fly straight up from the ground, bumping chests and flapping like fools.

Matt Young said:

… “turdus” is the Latin word for “thrush.”

Thanks! I might add that my English brother-in-law, an expert twitcher, insists that they are not robins at all. He must be infecting influencing me, because I carefully described it as an American robin. I gather that the (European) robin is an entirely different bird.

Yes, that’s right. (See also Wikipedia) The American robin is occasionally seen in Europe - usually in US-made films when the producers have failed to consult an ornithologist. Mary Poppins is one of these films, although the error is largely masked by Dick Van Dyke’s American Cockney accent.

Given how many times I’ve been crapped on by robins, their latin name is highly appropriate.

I love these birds. We have a lot of robins in Connecticut.

I raised a baby robin and ended up keeping it as a pet, since it was completely docile and would have been killed in the wild. Very congenial and animated, but dumb as a brick. I’ve also raised a starling and a cardinal, and they were far more interesting. Actually, the cardinal is still living with us, at the age of 16.

I don’t recommend robins as pets.

The real robins of Eurasia are not thrushes. They are Old World warblers - small and rather agressive. What would be a better name for our bird: “red-breasted thrush”?

D Andrew White said:

The real robins of Eurasia are not thrushes. They are Old World warblers - small and rather agressive. What would be a better name for our bird: “red-breasted thrush”?

Technically yes, but they got that choice name first.

That old chestnut about catching worms also applies to names, too.

Joel said: I’ve also raised a starling and a cardinal, and they were far more interesting. Actually, the cardinal is still living with us, at the age of 16.

Uh, Joel…Wikipedia says “It is illegal to take, kill, or possess Northern Cardinals, and violation of the law is punishable by a fine of up to 15,000 US dollars and imprisonment of up to six months.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Cardinal

D Andrew White said:

The real robins of Eurasia are not thrushes. They are Old World warblers - small and rather agressive. What would be a better name for our bird: “red-breasted thrush”?

Red-breasted turd?

I’ve also raised a starling and a cardinal, and they were far more interesting.

We have a backyard feeder, and the cardinals are among the most interesting visitors. We have a male with a territory at each end of the yards, and the feeder is more or less in the the middle. It’s interesting to watch the cardinal detente play out, especially when the feeder attracts females in the spring and summer.

Oddly, though “northern” cardinals are supposed to be year-round residents here in central Texas, I haven’t seen any since September.

I’ve been told that the term “robin’s egg blue” is used in England, even though it refers to the color of the American robin, not the one in England. I wonder how many average English think that their robins’ eggs are blue.

D Andrew White said:

The real robins of Eurasia are not thrushes. They are Old World warblers - small and rather agressive. What would be a better name for our bird: “red-breasted thrush”?

Actually they are part of the Chats not the Warblers and, for example, they are closely related to the Nightingale - famous for not singing in Berkeley Square.

I am called Robin and we are pretty aggressive - if that’s OK with you.

We have a large variety of birds at our backyard feeders; cardinals, grackles, starlings, blue jays, house wrens, chickadees, sparrows, nuthatches, robins, mourning doves, several kinds of woodpeckers, redwing blackbirds, Baltimore orioles, as well as others migrating through.

The starlings and grackles are extremely aggressive, and very intelligent. I have set the perch on one of the birdfeeders to close off the feeder at the weight of a grackle (they are pretty heavy relative to the others, except the mourning doves). The grackles have learned to lift the perch by prying upward with their beaks in the hole leading to the seed. I have pitted my intelligence against theirs and have lost a number of times.

The grackles and starlings are quite the bullies, but the sparrows never back down.

The robins don’t hang around the feeders very much; they stalk worms and insects on the ground nearby.

Migrating animals fascinate me. There are some birds or insects that travel thousands of miles, only FOR THEIR CHILDREN to return to the same place. Sometimes it’s even MORE than one generation later that returns home. That blows me away and blows my mind how DNA could play a part in that. And it’s not like birds provide GoogleEarth to their children…

For a minute there, I thought someone had come up with a proper term for Ray Comfort, the turd who is currently migrating to various college campuses in order to distribute (unload) his giant creationist turd.…

With regard to people raising robins, cardinals or any native North American bird, it has been illegal since 1918 when the North American Migratory Bird Treaty Act came into being. All native birds (not otherwise regulated for hunting)including raptors as of mid-20th century, their feathers, nests and eggs are protected. This venerable law is incredibly unknown and even more incredibly difficult to find sympathy for in the general public who cannot image what could be wrong with helping waif baby birds. In my naive youth I tried to explain the logic, but since no such laws exist for mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc., etc., I quit trying. Anyway, that’s the way it is.

Funny and amazing Bird..

Biomusicologist, I think Ray Comfort is classified as a Tard-Ass migratorius. Totally different bird.

Would anyone like to answer my question from a few posts up? This particular type of migration baffles me. Thanks!

Would anyone like to answer my question from a few posts up? This particular type of migration baffles me. Thanks!

I’d like to, except that I don’t know the answer. I can only guess that it involves an inherited instinct to be attracted by some particular sensory input (maybe a smell) when they reach a certain age.

I’m just curious how a Godwit from Alaska can pick up on a sensory input from New Zealand. And that’s just a specie that makes the trip itself, not a generational thing.

Funny how I capitalized Godwit instead of godwit. What was I thinking? :-)

I’m not an expert on this, but I know there have been studies which show that birds use a number of things for navigation, including star patterns, angle of the sun, the earth’s magnetic field. If you google “bird navigation” you will pull up a wealth of information on the subject.

Yes, there’s a wealth of information. Everything except how, exactly (or even anywhere close), that second or third generation of birds or insects “instinctively” know how to make use of those star patterns, angle of the sun, or the earth’s magnetic field. I will not accept “miracle,” but to me, “instinct” is just about equivalent to that.

How about “we don’t know yet”?

Anybody know if maybe New Zealand and Alaska used to be close together on the globe?

As I said, I am not an expert. I think that it is still an area for research.

You say that you will not accept “miracle” as an answer. Neither will I. I don’t know if the exact answer is known, but there are a number of methods that birds use. How much is genetic and how much is learned, I don’t know. It probably varies with the species and is probably a mix of different methods.

An interesting area for further study.

”…and how much is learned, I don’t know.”–ppb

Unless I’m really underestimating the incredible educational skills in momma birds, in the case of the 3rd generation bird who ‘returns’, the answer to this seems to be “zero.”

I don’t know anything about 3rd generation birds returning to specific locations. As I said, I am not an expert.

Where do you suppose they get that ability? You said you don’t accept miracles as an explanation. Does god whisper the directions to them as they fly? If not, then there is a natural explanation for this ability. Either they learn it, or it is something they inherit, or some combination of the two.

Do you have any other suggestions?

Frank, Here is a recent paper from The Auk which goes into detail, with many references, on the various navigational methods used by birds: http://www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.15[…]k.2009.11009

For a more general overview you might want to read this: http://www.ornithology.com/Lectures[…]ndNavig.html

Do you have a reference for your 3rd generation bird navigation?

If you are looking for information on how specifically this information is encoded in bird DNA, I don’t think it is known in quite that detail. As you can see from the articles and studies, birds use a number of methods for navigation, not just one. It is an interesting subject.

To the best of my knowledge, they haven’t been close for a VERY long time, if ever. It’s a bit hard to follow, but there are some pretty cool animations of plate motion at this link:

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/geolog[…]ctonics.html

These animations show movements of many different parts of the Earth, but at least when I looked, it wasn’t easy to tell what either NZ or AL were doing. I’m writing from a hotel room on a laptop, not my home computer, so I can’t get the resolution I’m used to. It’s hard to tell on this screen. What I can tell you about Alaska is that it’s pretty much composed of continental fragments that have arrived from a variety of locations, and it isn’t often easy to tell exactly where they came from.

Henry J said:

Anybody know if maybe New Zealand and Alaska used to be close together on the globe?

Yeah. What animations I found were all centered on the Atlantic or Africa, putting both Alaska and New Zealand at the edge of the picture. But it did look like Alaska was always up north and New Zealand was always down south, at least back until well before there were birds.

Henry

Concerning third generation migration, I was being a little loose between saying bird and insect migration. I was actually referring to certain butterflies, such as: http://www.nature.org/animals/insec[…]monarch.html

Thanks for putting me to work with that auk article!

I don’t know anything about butterfly navigation, but a google search of “monarch butterfly navigation” turned up some interesting articles. Here are a couple:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/p[…]tio-09-09-25

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_relea[…]mb042905.php

Also some articles in journals like Science which require a subscription to read. You can look them up if you have access to a university library.

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