Did you hear the soft, melodious song coming from the tree near your house this evening? Chances are, you’ve heard the male American Robin singing. Considered the species with the most abundant population throughout North America, the American Robins are the state birds of three states of the US: Michigan, Connecticut, and Wisconsin.
Belonging to the family of the thrushes, these birdies were named Robin after the European Robins due to the fact that both birds possess a reddish-orange breast. Apart from their name, the two birds have nothing else in common.
Are you wondering whether there are some birds that appear similar to Robins? Your quest for answers ends here; in our article today, we’re going to talk about 11 birds that share some resemblance with the Robins. Let’s get started!
1. Orchard Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus spurius
Height: 15-18 centimeters (5.9-7.1 inches)
Weight: 16-28 grams
Wingspan: 25 centimeters (9.8 inches)
Lifespan: around 9-11 years
The smallest members of the icterid family, Orchard Orioles are tiny birds that breed in the semi-open regions of eastern North America. They’re migratory and travel south to the coastal lowlands of South America during winters.
Like the other icterids, Orchard Orioles also display sexual dimorphism in their adult plumage. The males possess a black head, back, wings, and tail, with chestnut underparts. You’ll also notice chestnut flanks on their shoulders.
On the other hand, the females have an olive-green head and back with a yellow chest and rump. However, both sexes share their black eyes, grey, pointed bills, and white wing bars. Because of the overall black and chestnut coloration of Orchard Orioles, you could easily mistake them for Robins.
Here are some physical traits that set the two birds apart:
- Robins are slightly larger in size than these Orioles and are also significantly heavier.
- They have white markings around their eyes and chin that Orchard Orioles lack.
- Their bills are orange and not grey like the latter.
2. Spotted Towhee
Scientific name: Pipilo maculatus
Height: 17-21 centimeters (6.7-8.3)
Weight: 33-49 grams
Wingspan: 28 centimeters (11 inches)
Lifespan: around 11-12 years
Belonging to the family of the New World Sparrows, the Spotted Towhees are a large towhee species that inhabit the chapparals and upland forests of North America.
The adults of this species display sexual dimorphism in their plumage. The males have a black head and upper body, while their underparts are white, bordered with rufous sides. In the plumage of their female counterparts, grey replaces black, with the rest remaining the same.
However, red eyes, short, grey bills, and faded pink legs are common in both sexes. Both Robins and Spotted Towhees have dark upper parts and orangish underparts, which is why from a distance, the two look somewhat similar.
Here’s how you can tell them apart:
- The American Robins in slightly larger in size than the Spotted Towhees.
- The Spotted Towhees have black bills, whereas the Robins have orange bills.
- The head and upper parts of the Towhees are pure black, while the Robins have greyish-white backs.
3. American Redstart
Scientific name: Setophaga ruticilla
Height: 11-14 centimeters (4.3-5.5 inches)
Weight: 6.9-8.6 grams
Wingspan: 16-23 centimeters (6.3-9.1 inches)
Lifespan: around 5-10 years
Belonging to the New World Warbler family, the American Redstarts are tiny birds that breed in the scrubs and woodlands of North America. You’ll often find these migratory birds inhabiting areas with a water body nearby.
The adult American Redstarts display sexual dimorphism in their plumage. The breeding males sport a striking black head, chest, and back, with touches of orange on their black wings and tail. The rest of their underbody is white, except for orange chest flanks.
In the non-breeding months, they appear more like their females, with a grey head and greenish upper parts, wings, and tail. The only difference between them and their female counterparts is their chest flanks; unlike males’ orange flanks, the females possess yellow flanks.
American Redstarts resemble Robins due to their black head, eyes, and upper body. Their short legs are dark like the latter as well. However, that’s all the similarities these birds share.
Here are the major differences between the appearances of the two birds:
- Robins are twice as large as American Redstarts. Their body mass differs greatly as well.
- Their bills are orange, unlike the dark bills of the latter.
- Robins’ underbody is uniformly reddish-orange and not partly white like the American Redstarts.
4. Baltimore Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus galbula
Height: 17-22 centimeters (6.7-8.7 inches)
Weight: 33-40 grams
Wingspan: 23-32 centimeters (9.1-12.6 inches)
Lifespan: around 11-14 years
Declared the state bird of Maryland, the Baltimore Orioles are a migratory icterid species that are commonly found in the eastern regions of North America.
These birds have been named after the bright coloration of the male plumage, which matches the color of Lord Baltimore’s coat-of-arms. You’ll spot them in open woodlands and forest edges, often perched on the highest tree branches.
Adult Baltimore Orioles are sexually dimorphic. The males possess a black face, head, back, wings, and tail, while their underparts (shoulder patches, chest, and rump) are a brilliant share of yellowish-orange.
On the other hand, their female counterparts have a dull yellow face and chest, olive-brown wings and tail, and a white rump. Both sexes share the same black eyes, grey bills, and feet.
The black head and upper body, including wings and tail, of Baltimore Orioles, share a close resemblance to Robin’s plumage. Both birds have black eyes, too.
Here’s how you can set these birds apart:
- Robins are slightly larger and heavier than these orioles.
- They have a dark, almost chestnut-colored chest and rump, unlike the brighter, orangish underbody of the latter.
- Robins’ bills are orangish in color and lack the pointed edge of the orioles.
5. Varied Thrush
Scientific name: Ixoreus naevius
Height: 20-26 centimeters (7.9-10.2 inches)
Weight: 65-100 grams
Wingspan: 34-42 centimeters (13-17 inches)
Lifespan: around 4-6 years
Commonly spotted in the dense wet forests near the coasts in western North America, the Varied Thrushes are a fairly large thrush species.
These birds have a bright orange and black plumage. The adults display sexual dimorphism in their plumage.
The males have an intricate curved, gray pattern near the throat and breast, with bluish-gray tail ends and crowns. Their beaks are different in individuals with colorful markings but are tan near the bottom of the lower beak.
The females of the species are comparatively duller, with olive green, brown, and gray feathers. However, both the sexes share the same eyes and feet.
American Robins and Varied Thrushes have somewhat similar plumage and the same-colored eyes. Both the species are close in size, too. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Here’s how you can tell the American Robins and Varied Thrushes apart:
- Robins’ plumage appears dull in comparison to the Varied Thrushes. Robins have grey upperparts and light-orangish underparts, whereas the latter possesses an overall black and orange striped plumage.
- Varied Thrushes have black bills as opposed to the Robins’ orange-colored bills.
- Robins have a dark circle around their eyes, while two bold, black stripes run through Varied Thrushes’ eyes.
6. Black-headed Grosbeak
Scientific name: Pheucticus melanocephalus
Height: 18-19 centimeters (7.1-7.5 inches)
Weight: 34-38 grams
Wingspan: 32 centimeters (12.6 inches)
Lifespan: around 6-12 years
Black-headed Grosbeaks are commonly found in southwestern British Columbia, the western United States, and central Mexico. You can also spot them in Central America as a vagrant species.
True to their name, the males Black-headed Grosbeaks have blackheads, wings, and tails with significant white blotches. Their breasts range from light to dark orange with a touch of yellow on their bellies.
On the other hand, the females have brown heads, necks, and backs with black streaks that resemble sparrows. Their wings and tail are gray and brown with white wing bars and yellowish tips, and white breasts.
However, both the sexes share the same-colored eyes, ranging from dark brown to olive green.
Black-headed Grosbeaks resemble Robins because of their light orangish belly, black forehead, and their black eyes.
Here’s how you can differentiate between American Robins and Black-headed Grosbeaks:
- Robins are larger and heavier than Black-headed Grosbeaks.
- Black-headed Grosbeaks have rufous patches near their eyebrows, which are absent in American Robins.
- Robins have vibrant orange bills, while the bills of Black-headed Grosbeaks are light-greyish.
7. Eastern Towhee
Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Height: 13.3-23 centimeters (6.8-9.1 inches)
Weight: 32-53 grams
Wingspan: 20-30 centimeters (7.9-11.8 inches)
Lifespan: around 12 years
Eastern Towhees can be easily spotted in their breeding grounds in eastern North America, perched on trees in open woods and brushy regions. Some birds of these species are also seen in the southern United States as vagrant birds.
The adult Eastern Towhees display sexual dimorphism in their appearance. Males have black heads, upper wings, and tails with white edges. All these parts are brown in their female counterparts.
Despite these differences, all adults have reddish-brown flanks and white bellies. They generally have red eyes, except for the birds in the southeast, which have white-colored eyes. American Robins and Eastern Towhees both have black heads, backs, wings, and tails.
Here’s how you can tell these birds apart:
- American Robins are considerably larger and heavier than Eastern Towhees.
- Eastern Towhees have black bills, while the Robins have vibrant orange-colored bills.
- Robins have black and white stripes on their neck, unlike the plain black neck of the Towhees.
8. Bullock’s Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus bullockii
Height: 17-19 centimeters (6.7-7.5 inches)
Weight: 29-43 grams
Wingspan: 31 centimeters (12.3 inches)
Lifespan: around 7-9 years
Bullock’s orioles are named after the amateur English naturalist, William Bullock. Previously, both Bullock’s and Baltimore Orioles were known to be one species, called the Northern Oriole.
These birds display sexual dimorphism in their plumage, with the males appearing brighter and more colorful than the females.
Males have a black head, wings, and tails with a sharply contrasting orange face, breasts, and underparts. Their white wing coverts also form a wing patch, although it’s usually not visible in flight.
The females, on the other hand, have brownish-grey upperparts, dull yellow underparts, breasts, and an olive crown. American Robins and Bullock’s Orioles have somewhat similar plumages and the same eye color, but that’s where the similarities end.
Here’s how you can distinguish between the two birds:
- Bullock’s Orioles have grey bills, whereas Robins have bills that are vibrant orange in color.
- Robins have white circles around their eyes, which the Orioles lack.
- Robins have an intricate pattern of white and black on their necks, while the Bullock’s Orioles have plain, black necks.
9. Rose-breasted Nuthatch
Scientific name: Sitta canadensis
Height: 11 centimeters (4.3 inches)
Weight: 9.9 grams
Wingspan: 22 centimeters (8.5 inches)
Lifespan: around 6-7 years
Commonly referred to as Red-breasted Nuthatch, the Rose-breasted Nuthatches are a common sight in the coniferous forests of Alaska, north-western and southern United States, and Canada.
Although they prefer a sedentary lifestyle, they will travel south if there’s a lack of food supplies in winter. In fact, many of these birds have been spotted as far south as northern Mexico and the Gulf Coast.
The adults have bluish-grey upper parts with light brown underparts. Their faces and throats are white, with two black stripes running through their eyes. They have straight gray bills and a black crown.
You can notice sexual dimorphism in the plumage of these birds, with females being duller than their male counterparts. American Robins and Rose-breasted Nuthatches have black heads, backs, wings, tails, and eyes.
Here’s how to distinguish between the two of them:
- Rose-breasted Nuthatches are significantly smaller in size than the Robins, which are also heavier than the former.
- Nuthatches have a white throat that slowly blends into their dark orange rump. The Robins, on the other hand, have a completely flame-orange throat and belly.
- Robins have white eye-rings, whereas the Nuthatches have bold white lines running across their crowns.
10. Blackburnian Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga fusca
Height: 11-14 centimeters (4.3-5.1 inches)
Weight: 8-13 grams
Wingspan: 20-22 centimeters (7.9-8.7 inches)
Lifespan: around 3-8 years
Blackburnian Warblers can be easily spotted on the trees and bushes of coniferous or deciduous forests in eastern North America and southern Canada, the Great Lakes region, and New England.
The male warblers have a brown crown, dark grey backs, bright yellow rumps, and flaming orange throats. Their underparts are white, with a few traces of yellow and black streaks. They also have double white wing bars, which are only visible during flight.
Although Blackburnian Warblers display sexual dimorphism in plumage, both sexes look more or less the same. Only the females’ overall plumage seems duller, and they don’t have the head patterns that the males possess.
Both Robins and Blackburnian Warblers have black backs, wings, and tails.
Here’s how you can tell these birds apart:
- Robins are significantly larger and heavier than the Blackburnian Warblers.
- Robins have a completely black head and throat, unlike the orange head of the Warblers, with black lines running across their crown and eyes.
- The bright orange bills of Robins are comparatively longer than the black bills of the latter.
11. Common Redstart
Scientific name: Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Height: 13-14.5 centimeters (5.1-5.7 inches)
Weight: 11-23 grams
Wingspan: 20-22 centimeters (7.9-8.7 inches)
Lifespan: around 5-10 years
Common Redstarts are members of the Old World Flycatcher family that prefer to nest on the edge of woodland clearings in England, most of Europe, and western Asia.
The males have a greyish head and upper parts, with a white forehead. Their rumps, tails, flanks, and underwing coverts are all in an orange-chestnut hue. The flight wings and central feathers are brown, whereas the tail feathers are orange-red.
The females have browner feathers in their plumage, and their underparts are paler than the males’. They have white throats and lack grey upper parts. Both sexes share their black feet and bills.
Both the American Robins and Common Redstarts have black eyes and chestnut on their underparts.
Here’s how you can tell these two birds apart:
- Robins are considerably larger and heavier than Common Redstarts.
- They have flame-orange throats, flanks, rumps, and bellies, whereas the Redstarts only have orange flanks.
- Robins have vibrant orange bills, unlike the black bills of the latter.
Summing it up
With this, we’ve come to the end of our article. Let’s do a quick revision of everything new that we’ve learned today.
We began by talking about the traits of Robins that they’re popular for, including their lovely songs and reddish-orange chest, which has lent them their name. Then, we moved on to discuss other birds that resemble the Robins, with orioles, redstarts, and towhees coming the closest. In our list, you’ll also find some surprising names of warblers and nuthatches.
The next time you come across a black and chestnut passerine bird, you’ll be able to tell whether they’re a robin or one of the other birds mentioned above easily.