Yesterday morning I could have been found checking out Smith and Morehouse Reservoir in Summit County, Utah, I’d never been there before and I was excited to see what birds might be in the area. It appeared that most of the migrants have already left but there were some year round residents in the area. I saw a low of 33°F and frost on the ground for the first time this season which is not all that surprising considering the elevation (+/- 7800 feet) and I was still wearing my hiking sandals, it seems it is time to at least put some warm socks in my camera bag.
Immature American Robin with a Chokecherry – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 640, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
There was plenty of bird activity where chokecherry trees (Prunus virginiana) lined both sides of the gravel road, the most numerous birds foraging on the chokecherries were American Robins and many of them were immature birds. These immature American Robins are most likely from the second or third broods of the breeding season.
This young American Robin had a fat chokecherry in its bill when I first saw it so I quickly focused on it and fired away as it struggled to swallow the ripe fruit whole.
Immature American Robin swallowing a Chokecherry – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 640, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I took 81 photos of this immature American Robin before it finally swallowed the chokecherry. Believe it or not I was cheering this young bird along inside my head because I thought the chokecherry might have been too big to swallow whole, I was happy to see that it could.
Note: American Robins do not have a crop but their expandable esophagus can act like a crop, in colder weather robins will stuff their esophagus full of fruits so that they will have enough calories to get through bitter cold winter nights.
Immature American Robin in a Chokecherry tree – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 640, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
This immature American Robin appeared to be a bit younger than the robin above, its head and most of its plumage was lighter than the bird in the photos above and its gape was more pronounced. I liked how the robin was lit by the morning sun while much of the chokecherry was still in the shade, it illuminated this immature robin rather nicely.
American Robins can be found throughout most of North America so they are considered “common” birds but for me any wild bird is worthy of taking the time to photograph. Photographing these immature American Robins foraging in the Chokecherry trees yesterday was the brightest highlight of my morning.
I also saw Ospreys on a nest on the way up to the reservoir, a thrush I have yet to identify, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Steller’s Jays, chickadees, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Red-tailed Hawks, mule deer, a squirrel I couldn’t identify because my view of it was so brief plus I heard some sapsuckers calling. A trip up to this reservoir in the spring and early summer has been placed on my “to do” list for next year.
Life is good.
Some American Robin facts and information:
- American Robins are large thrushes with rounded bodies, long legs and long tails. The have gray brown plumage with orange to red chests and dark heads. The females are duller in coloration than the males. Males grow black feathers during the breeding season and once the breeding season is over they lose those feathers.
- American Robins are common birds across North America. They are found in many types of habitat including woodlands, forests, urban and wilderness parks, mountains, tundra, backyards, fields and golf courses.
- Some populations are migratory and some are year round residents depending on the geographic location.
- American Robins eat insects and fruits, earthworms and snails.
- American Robins lay 3 to 7 eggs which hatch in 12 to 14 days, the female incubates. They are monogamous.
- A group of robins can be called a “worm” of robins.
- American Robins can live up to 13 years.