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During the 1926-27 school year, the Federated Women’s Clubs of Wisconsin surveyed the children attending the state’s schools and asked them to vote for the state bird of Wisconsin. Overwhelmingly, the children named the robin as the most popular bird; robins received twice the number of votes as any other bird. It wasn’t until 1949, however, that the state's legislature officially proclaimed the American robin as the state bird of Wisconsin. Interestingly, what is recognized as the American robin in the United States isn’t actually a robin; instead, it is a thrush. Early American settlers named the robin after a bird that is very familiar in Europe, the robin red-breast, but the American robin is a closer relative of blackbirds than English robins.
In North America, robins are the most widely distributed member of the thrush family. The state bird of Wisconsin is a native of near Arctic regions. American robins can be seen throughout the year in southern Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland as well as across the U.S. Within their breeding range, robins are migratory and will go as far south as Guatemala and southern Mexico for the winter. In the summer, they are found as far north as the northernmost areas of Canada and Alaska.
The American robin, scientifically named Turdus migratorius, is a songbird, and it is the largest of the North American thrushes. Full-grown robins are 8-11 inches (20-28 cm) in length, have wingspans that are about 12-16 inches (31-40 cm) and weigh an average of 2.7 ounces (77 g). In appearance, robins are a brownish gray. The sexes resemble each other except that the females are a little more pale, and the heads of the males are darker. For both sexes, their most distinguishing physical characteristic is their reddish-orange chests and bellies, which help make the state bird of Wisconsin easy to identify.
As a habitat, robins prefer areas of open ground in woodlands, orchards, fields or gardens. The open ground gives them areas in which to forage for food, and nearby trees and shrubs give them places to nest and roost. Robins are commonly found near humans because the type of habitat they prefer is often found in agricultural and suburban areas.
During breeding season, the robin is monogamous and forms a pair bond. Breeding seasons starts around April and might go through July. The female lays three to five eggs that are bright blue. She is responsible for incubating the eggs, which takes about two weeks.
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