The state bird of Michigan is the American robin, also known as robin red breast. Its scientific name is turdus migratorius. Common throughout North America, the American robin is a member of the thrush family. This bird is so popular that both Wisconsin and Connecticut have also made the robin their state bird.
Its popularity is probably due to its happy song and the bright reddish-orange color of its breast. Both sexes display the same coloration, but the female’s hues are slightly paler, and the colors of both sexes become more muted in the winter. The state bird of Michigan is a migratory songbird, and heads south when the temperatures fall. It is one of the first birds to return at the end of winter.
The male robin starts singing very early in the morning. It has a variety of cheerful calls which it keeps repeating. Robins can often be seen pulling worms from the ground in residential areas, parks, golf courses, and pastures. These habits may have made the state bird of Michigan the inspiration for the adage “The early bird gets the worm.”
American robins are larger than many other songbirds, reaching a length of 8.5 inches (21.5 centimeters) at maturity. Their average life span is six years, but some robins have been known to live as long as 14 years. Large snakes, cats, and hawks are their natural predators.
The male and female robins are the same size. They have short, yellow beaks and eat fruits, berries, and larvae. Their backs and wings are brownish-gray, and they have a white rump.
Female robins construct nests out of twigs, feathers, paper, mud, and grass. These nests are located anywhere between 5 and 25 feet (1.52 to 7.62 m) off the ground, and are usually protected from rain. The bowl-shaped nests are approximately 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter and often padded with soft materials, such as grass and feathers. Robin eggs are about the size of a quarter and are a pale aqua color. Nestlings hatch approximately 11-14 days after the eggs are laid and display a pink coloration with tiny clumps of feathers.
The American robin was designated the state bird of Michigan in 1931. This remained uncontested until 2003 when some elementary schoolchildren lobbied to have the Kirtland’s warbler made the official state bird. The attempt was unsuccessful, so the American robin still claims the title of the state bird of Michigan.