What Do Robins Eat?

There is nothing more beautiful than watching birds in our backyard. American Robins, one of the most beloved species, are native to North America. These wonderful creatures could become your friends if you provide them the right food, especially during the winter months.

The typical diet for a robin includes insects, worms, and fruits. They particularly like berries, mealworms, and insect larvae. To attract them to your bird feeder, you can also add pieces of apple in addition to berries and worms. To make them happier, you should have water around as they like to drink and bathe frequently.

My wife and I love animals and would like to start learning about some of the birds we can attract and pumper in the backyard of our new home in Lewes, Delaware. One of the first birds that caught our attention in Delaware is the beautiful American Robin. I did research to learn all I can about what they eat and what we should feed them. This article contains all I have learned.

Location and Food Logistics for a Happy Robin

Bird feeder with Robin

Robins may be small, but they feed multiple times a day, and they eat a lot. They require excess food to maintain the energy they need to stay warm in colder months. A single adult American Robin can eat up to 14 feet of worms per day!

You first need to find a suitable location for bird feeders. Robins prefer to feed in open areas like lawns, but unfortunately, they have natural enemies, like cats and predatory birds. Try to put the feeder in a place where the bird can see the danger from a distance and fly away. Avoid putting it next to the bushes from where cats can prey on them.

Robins like to bathe too. If you can, install a small pond for them. These birds also use mud for nests, so muddy water is appealing to them.

Robins also like covers, such as trees and tall bushes, where they can hide from their natural predators. If you have a tree nearby, place the feeder in the vicinity. Robins will be able to feed in the open and hide in the tree if necessary.

Robins are natural ground feeders, so the feeder itself should ideally be a ground feeding tray. They will not likely visit birdhouses and feeders, hanging on a tree. As a compromise, you can place a large, open bird table under the feeder, which they will probably like. You can even install some roof to provide shade and cover from the rain. Just make sure there is more than enough clearance from the tabletop to the roof. Tables are also useful to create some distance between robins and their predators.

You should replace the food when it rains. Fresh food is ideal, as wet food can be particularly dangerous for Robins. Mold and bacteria can develop and can make the birds sick. As their numbers are declining in the wild, your goal is to help them and not hurt them.

What Kind of Food is Safe and Beneficial for Robins?

Berries

There are several species of Robins. The two most popular are the American and European Robin. They are not closely related, although they share the same name. Their feeding habits are a bit different too. When searching for Robin food information, make sure you get data relevant to a specific species you are looking for.

Here is a list of food American Robins eat in the wild. If you can get your hands on some of these, place them in your Robin feeder –they’ll like it!

Indian Plum

This shrub grows in many places across North America, and fruits small and dark. The Pacific coast tribes used its fruit, twigs, and bark, as food sources and medicine. If they happen to be in your neighborhood, go out for a walk and collect a few for your Robins.

Thimbleberry

These small, red fruits are frequently found on a Robin’s menu. Same as with the previous ones, if you can find them, pick a few, and place them into the feeder.

Huckleberry

This is another species of berries that Robins like to eat. Consider planting some of these in your backyard.

Bitter Cherry

These small cherries are another fruit that Robins happily eat. These cherries are also known as Oregon cherries. Since Robins are the most abundant bird in Oregon, these two naturally get along.

Chopped Apples

Apples are easy to get, relatively cheap, and Robins love them. Chop them into small pieces and serve them with other food.

Beetles and Insects

These birds are natural insect exterminators. Those who have too many insects around a house should attract a few Robins to resolve the problem. Just like bats, although they don’t eat mosquitoes exclusively, they can help minimize the number of mosquitoes around your house.

Mealworms

Mealworms have a high nutritional value and provide everything that Robin needs to thrive. It is no surprise that Robins find them to be a delicacy. You can find them yourself or buy them in fishing stores or pet stores which sell food for exotic pets.

Is There Something I Should Never Feed Robins?

Bread

Unfortunately, some information online, written by inexperienced people, can result in more harm than good. When feeding Robins, you should always avoid the following:

Bread

People give bread to all kinds of bird species, like swans, seagulls, and pigeons. Some will even give it to Robins.

When birds eat bread, it fills their stomach fast and decreases their hunger. These birds won’t consume a lot of natural food later, and it will take some time for them to digest bread. Bread has no nutritional value for the bird, and if they keep feeding on it, soon they will develop all kinds of health problems caused by the lack of nutrients.

Dog/Cat Food

Because robins eat mealworms, and those contain protein, some will say that giving cat or dog food to Robins is ok.

The problem is that both of these foods contain many additives, which are valuable for domestic dogs and cats. They have an excellent effect on their digestion, urinary tract, and other organs. However, these additives have the opposite effect on birds. Prolonged consumption can have numerous side-effects.

Pesticides

When you feed Robins apples, make sure you wash them and remove the skin. Pesticides and insecticides have a horrible effect on these small and delicate creatures. If you have a garden, avoid using any chemicals because Robins will most likely suffer the consequences.

Seeds

Robins do not eat seeds in the wild. Seeds are beneficial for some other bird species, but Robins is not one of them. Seeds would fill their stomach quickly, and they would not digest them entirely, and over time, they would lack vital nutrients. In nature, they eat only the seed inside a fruit, and it is ok to leave a chopped apple with a few apple seeds, but giving them an excessive amount of sunflower seeds or similar ones, is not advisable.

About the American Robin

Below is a very informative 5-minute video about American Robins going beyond what they eat and what you should feed them.

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