Dear Readers, some of you reading this from North America might be wondering what all the fuss is about, but for those of us in the UK there’s real excitement at the appearance of an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in Eastbourne on the Sussex coast. The bird is apparently healthy and is demolishing the cotoneaster berries in a suburban backyard, holding its own amongst the blackbirds and the last of the redwings. And while it’s easy to be sniffy about ‘twitchers’, for many people this will be a rare chance to see a North American bird without jumping on a plane. The local residents have apparently been very understanding about all these chaps turning up with their telescopes and long lenses, and have set up a Gofundme to encourage the people who’ve travelled to donate to Eastbourne Foodbank.
Although this is an unusual case, it’s not unknown for American Robins to turn up in Europe, and in particular in the UK – there have been 28 recorded cases, with the latest being a bird that arrived in Devon in 2018. American Robins migrate; from the end of August they head south from Canada and the northern USA, and in February they start heading back north. It’s thought that this bird was somehow nudged rather further east than expected due to weather conditions, and has ended up in a Sussex garden. It seems happy enough (often windblown birds are damaged and sick by the time they make landfall), but of course this bird won’t be able to breed unless there’s a miracle and a female turns up too.
And so, good luck, American Robin! In 2003 three American Robins turned up and even tried to stay for the winter, though one of them was killed by a sparrowhawk. It will be interesting to see what happens to this bird.
Photo One by By Arustleund – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32745016