A. The American robin is recorded in every state of the U.S. and every province of Canada on Breeding Bird Surveys. The total population is stable or increasing in most places on a large scale, but in some urban locations where cats and pesticides are common, robins appear to be declining locally.
colonists first arrived, just about all of eastern America was heavily
forested, and there were few trees at all in the prairie. Colonists cleared
the forests, making it easier for robins to hunt on open ground, and also
introduced more species of earthworms from Europe. In the prairie, they
planted trees which robins use for nesting.
A. When humans used the insecticide called DDT in the U.S., many robins died during spring migration as their bodies metabolized large amounts of body fat at once--DDT from the worms robins ate all winter was stored in their fatty tissues and all released into their bloodstream at once. This was a harmful effect, and now that DDT is banned in the US, is no longer a problem for our robins. Humans also have very positive effects on migration by planting the trees that provide food and shelter for migrants.
A. Dangers facing robins include (from most dangerous to least):
A. We can keep our cats indoors and encourage our neighbors to, set out nest platforms for robins, stop using insecticides in our lawn sprays and only spot spray weed killers rather than spraying the entire lawn. We can also plant the kinds of berry trees and bushes that provide abundant food for robins, and the kinds of trees and shrubs that provide good cover for nesting. We can set out bird baths. And we can even set out "robin feeders."
A. See Carrol Henderson's Robin Nest Platform Plans
A. Try to choose species that are native to North America. Some summer berry trees include:
Fall berries include:
Winter berries include:
A. Robins never visit bird feeders for seed, because they just don't eat seeds. But some robins do learn to visit feeders to take berries, chopped up apples, and, especially, mealworms. One Journey North correspondent set up a small birdbath heater in a dogfood dish in his yard, and filled it with food rather than water, and had robins visiting it all winter. He filled the feeder with fruit and also with mealworms. Look at the Photo of Winter Robin Feeder. You can also offer mealworms in plastic dishes or acrylic window feeders. To order them, try a local petshop, bird feeding store, Rainbow Mealworms or Grubco.
Editor's Note: (March, 2017): Several Journey North observers have written to say that they have seen robins at feeders. Here is an example from Cape Cod, MA.