Monday, December 19, 2011

Eye-catching breasts link two species

American robin ( Turdus migratorius) in Oakland County, Michigan
late November 2011
photo by Jonathan Schechter

      American robins are common in Michigan. We see them lawn-hopping from early spring
  until late autumn and some hang out in Michigan all winter. Their cheerful song, rusty orange
breast and  worm-slurping behavior are trademarks.  
 Adults simply call them robins.
Little kids call them, "Look! A robin red-breast!!!"
Newscasters refer to them as our quintessiental early bird --the (false) harbinger of spring.

But on this blustery day at the dawn of winter robins of a different feather are on the move in the
 Upper Galilee of Israel, enroute from Europe to North Africa where they will spend their winter. 
The American robin (above) is actually a thrush and a member of the  genus Turdus. 
 Our robin gained its name from homesick  Europeans that settled (invaded )North America and 
 saw the orange breasts  of "our" robin and thought back to their  beloved European robins.  The beautiful European robins are in the genus Erithacus and are thrush-like true flycatchers.  They share that eye-catching rusty red  breast of its American namesake. 
The photos below are a European robin, photographed  yesterday during migation near
 Kibbutz Kfar Blum in the Upper Galilee by my sister.
Nature is a true artist and the diversity of birds is the art of evolution.

European robin (Erithucus rubecula )
Upper Galilee, Israel 12/17/2011
photos by Laurie Schechter Rimon


Blogger Pat said...

Terrific little post!

December 19, 2011 at 10:13 AM 
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