In my opinion, robins are often overlooked or dismissed as ordinary and unremarkable. They are common, yes, found across almost the entire North American continent and well-adapted to coexisting with humans. But like with many things, what we think we know is only part of the story.

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One seldom-discussed fact about robins is that the females are part engineer, part artist. They make their cup-shaped nests using the wrist of their wings to press together grass, twigs, paper, moss, feathers, and other materials. They then reinforce it with mud to make it sturdy. The final touch is lining the inside with soft grass. Their masterpieces are heavy and study nests, measuring about 6-8 inches wide and 3-6 inches deep.

Food-wise, robins have quite a varied diet. They eat both fruits and invertebrates, like earthworms, and insects. What they eat also depends on the time of day. Worms in the morning and fruits in the afternoon. Perhaps one of the most iconic images of robins is of them on lawns pulling worms out of the ground. But have you ever watched the whole hunting process? They rely on both sight and hearing. Often they will move in short bursts on the ground. Then they stop and tilt their head to one side, standing perfectly still. By doing this they can use both senses. They can hear the worms. And their sharp eyesight, with an eye turned and aimed at the ground, can see the signs of a worm near the surface.

So the next time you see a robin, watch it hunt or forage. Note what it’s eating and how, and what time of day it is. Then, if you are lucky, see if you can track where it goes and you may be able to spot its wonderful nest.