What is the State Bird of Connecticut? (And Why?)

Connecticut is the 29th most populous state and the 3rd smallest state by area in the United States. There are plenty of diverse habitats for birds and other wildlife including coastal marshes, beaches and rolling mountains. The state animal for Connecticut is the Sperm Whale, but what is the state bird?

The state of Connecticut chose the American Robin (Turdus migratorius), also called the robin redbreast, as the state bird in 1943. This, migratory thrush known for its red breast, actually has chest feathers that vary in hue from peach to red maroon. Their coloring depends on their gender.

The state bird of Connecticut, the American Robin

The state bird of Connecticut, the American Robin

Why is the American robin the state bird for Connecticut?

While many American robins migrate for winter, the robins in Connecticut seem to love the fall foliage as much as vacationers. Rather than living the life of a snowbird, these avians remain in the state year-round. During the harsh northern winters, they nest high in pines in swamps. These evergreen swamp dwellers regale the state’s residents with a song all year long. That kind of loyalty earned the redbird a special place in the hearts of the state’s residents.

When did the American robin become the state bird for Connecticut?

The Connecticut General Assembly adopted the bird through legislation in 1943. It shares the American robin as a state bird with Wisconsin and Michigan.

American Robin calling from a tree

American Robin calling from a tree

What does the state bird of Connecticut look like?

Both genders of the American robin look alike, but the female sports paler red on their chest and stomach. The birds feature a black to dark gray head with a broken eye-ring. Typically, these birds have a black bill featuring a brown shade at the base. They have gray upper parts with a white undertail. Their streaked throat and a thin bill of yellow round out the festive nature of this bright, cheery bird. Their winter plumage comes in considerably paler than their summer feathers. The youths of this bird have spotted whiter breasts.

From head to tail, the American robin measures an average of 8.5 inches but can grow up to 11 inches in length. Its wingspan ranges from 12 to 16 inches. These little birds don’t weigh much – only 2.3 ounces to 3 ounces.

Close up of an American Robin

Close up of an American Robin

How do these birds behave?

The cheerful, energetic American robin sings alone, frequenting residential areas to forage for food on lawns. You probably wake up to the song of a robin because they sing early in the morning.

When they travel, the American robin does so as part of a large flock, so long as it isn’t in the breeding season. They frequent both North America and Central America. They love to travel and typically travel to Florida for the winter. The Gulf Coast and central Mexico also prove popular for winter spots for this bird. Some fly to the Pacific coast.

Although in spring and summer, they may live as far north as Canada or Alaska, they enjoy mating and breeding in warmer weather. They reproduce from April to July of each year. They lose a bit of their cheerful nature when breeding because they fiercely defend their territory.

The bird practices serial monogamy, meaning that each year two birds choose one another and pair off to procreate. Their coupling lasts through the breeding season. The following season, each will find a new partner to mate with for that year. The mother typically lays three to five eggs per brood. The robin couple may have two to three broods per year, during the breeding season.

Incubation requires 14 days. When the eggs hatch, the babies have no feathers and no sight. They develop feathers and the ability to see during the next two weeks, while their parents attentively care for them. About two weeks after hatching, the chicks can leave the nest for forays into the world, but their parents continue to look out for them for another two weeks. During this period, they can only fly short distances, so their parents look out for them as they learn to spread their wings and fly. Once proficient at flight, they strike off on their own.

American Robin perched on a wooden fence

American Robin perched on a wooden fence

Do American robins form communities?

American robins form temporary communities. Each year they migrate south for the winter and many robins band together to form a flock. They fly long distances together to maximize safety. Travelling in great numbers reduces the risk of predator attack. They reduce their socialness during summer.

Once they reach their destination, they break off into smaller numbers. Each bird constructs its own nest. This nest lets them winter in warmth. When they travel back to their permanent home during warmer weather, they build a nest there, too. This nest sits between 4.9 feet to 14.8 feet above the ground. They usually place it in a fork between two tree branches or in dense bush.

Their nest construction blends many hardy materials. They weave these materials together to form a foundation, then smear the interior floor with mud and line it with soft grass, essentially providing themselves with a deep pile of wall-to-wall carpeting. The nest’s foundation typically consists of twigs, feathers, coarse grass, and paper. In addition to soft grass, you may also see a robin redbreast flying with a piece of cloth in its beak or a bit of bunting from a pillow. They scour their territory for soft items for the interior of the nest. The mother prioritizes this since she will sit on the eggs continuously for two weeks while they incubate.

American Robin eating juniper berries during the winter

American Robin eating juniper berries during the winter

What do American robins eat?

Typically, these birds eat an omnivore diet. In winter in Connecticut, they thrive on winter berries. During the rest of the year, they enjoy small invertebrates and their favorite meals include worms, grubs, grasshoppers, fruits, and berries. What they eat does vary by location, so robins living in other states eat different meals.

For many individuals in the state of Connecticut, the sight of a robin pecking at the ground and capturing a worm signals spring. That’s because the bird’s success at bringing a worm up through the ground means it unfroze. When the robins leave the swamps and return to the state’s yards, you can know winter ended.

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