Have you ever seen a bird and thought it was a robin, only to be told by a friend or family member that it wasn’t? Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
There are several birds that share similar characteristics with robins, making them easy to mistake for one another. However, there are some key differences that can help you identify these look-alikes.
Here are 13 birds that look like robins but aren’t: The next time you see a bird that resembles a robin, take a closer look and see if you can tell the difference.
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Table of Contents
13 Birds That Look Like Robins
A rose-breasted grosbeak is often mistaken for a robin. Its triangular bill and broad chest make it look like a robin. However, it belongs to the family Cardinalidae.
Blackhead, tail, wings, and white belly with rose-red breasts distinguish the male of this bird. In contrast, female birds have bold white stripes above their eyes.
Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks have a distinctive sound and eat sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, raw peanuts, and insects. Unlike robins, they do not prefer fruits.
The Spotted Towhee belongs to the same family as robins, and their size and color are very similar. However, the Spotted Towhee is larger than a robin with a longer bill and legs.
There are white spots on the back of the male Spotted Towhee and a white belly with red flanks. Unlike male Spotted Towhees, female Spotted Towhees have a greyish-brown pattern rather than black.
They’re one of the easiest birds to spot in the West because they don’t migrate.
In the summer, Spotted Towhees eat insects like beetles, caterpillars, true bugs, and grasshoppers, while in the winter, they eat berries, seeds, and acorns. Also, like robins, the Spotted Towhee enjoys being close to the ground.
Robins and American Redstarts are closely related birds. This family of birds is known for its active nature. The American Redstart is a small songbird with beautiful white and black plumage.
The female American Redstart has a long tail, while a male has a long tail and a flat, wide bill, like a Robin. These birds have all black tails, while Robins have dark tails with white tips.
Most of these birds live in North and Central America and feed on moths, caterpillars, midges, and beetles. Even so, they enjoy the occasional seed or berry.
If you’re ever unsure whether you’re looking at a Robin or an American Redstart, simply observe the tail; if it is all black, you are most likely looking at an American Redstart.
The orchard oriole belongs to the Icteridae family, which includes other songbirds. It has a round head, a straight, pointed bill, and a relatively slim body. Orchard orioles are slightly smaller than robins.
The orchard oriole is a beautiful bird with yellow-green plumage and a black head, back, and tail. Also, the male orchard oriole has a red chest, similar to the robin species.
Both orchard orioles and robins primarily feed on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, wasps, and fruits like berries and oranges. Consequently, the orchard oriole bears many similarities to the robin, although there are still some key differences between the two species.
The Baltimore bird, a member of the Icteridae family, is known for its sweet singing and is often found on tree tops. It is slightly smaller than a robin with a long tail and pointed bill.
Females are characterized by orange or yellow underparts and blackheads, while males have orange or blackheads and white wing bars. It feeds mostly on insects and fruits, but it prefers dark-colored fruits.
As opposed to robins and other birds that eat fruit, they consume the reddest cherries and the darkest mulberries instead of brightly colored fruits. The Baltimore bird also ignores ripe, brightly-colored fruits in favor of darker ones.
It can be challenging to distinguish a varied thrush from an American robin since they both belong to the Turdidae family. In spite of this, the two birds differ physically in several key ways.
For starters, the varied thrush is slightly larger than the American robin with a longer tail. It also has a slimmer body and a smaller head. It also has a dark blue-grey head with an orange line above its eyes, unlike a robin with a black head with white markings around its eyes.
The patterning on the wings of a varied thrush differs slightly from that of a robin, even though both birds have black wings with white and/or orange markings.
The primary diet of varied thrushes is insects. Unlike robins, varied thrushes are more likely to catch their prey in midair rather than foraging on the ground.
Like the spotted towhee, the Eastern towhee belongs to the Passerellidae family.
The plumage of an Eastern towhee is black on the back and head, with rufous coloring on the wings and tail. The underparts are white with some brown streaking. Unlike the spotted towhee, it does not have wing bars or white spots on its back.
The eastern towhee is seen on the ground, using its feet to scratch leaves. The bird’s feeding habits vary with season and region; it eats insects like ants, millipedes, and true bugs in the summer and eats seeds and fruits in winter.
The red-winged blackbird is another member of the Icteridae family bird that looks similar to a robin. It is a little bit smaller than a robin with a shorter tail. The bird has black plumage with distinctive red and yellow markings on its wings.
It is one of the most polygamous of all bird species and is an attention seeker, especially the male species, which perches on the top of trees, belting out its song throughout the day.
The male bird is shiny black with red and yellow shoulder bands, while the females are colored dark brown and paler around the chest area. It feeds mostly on insects, including butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies; in winter, it prefers to feed on seeds and grains.
Black-headed grosbeak is a bird similar to robins in coloration, which may lead some people to mistake them for robins.
Despite its shorter tail, the grosbeak is more slender and compact than the robin.
A male black-headed grosbeak has a brown upper body and orange-colored breasts, while a female has a brown upper body and black head.
Males sing in a whistled lilt from the top of trees, and these birds are very loud singers. Seeds and fruits, such as apples, peaches, berries, and plums, are their favorite foods.
Blackburnian warblers belong to the Parulidae family. The males of this species are known for their orange throats, faces, breasts, black triangular cheek patches, and irregularly shaped white wing patches.
There is a distinct yellowish throat color on females and younger blackburnian warblers. It has a slim body and a medium-length tail and is smaller than a robin.
As Blackburnian warblers prefer to nest in trees high up, they are less frequently seen than robins. With high-pitched voices, they sing sonorously and feed on fruits, insects, and spiders.
Bullock’s oriole belongs to the family Icteridae and looks like a robin but is much larger. In order to reach their prey, they often hang upside down or stretch.
In males, the body is black, the wings are white, and the eye is orange with a black line over it. Compared to males and younger species, females have gray backs and yellowish-orange heads and tails.
Birds of this species feed on insects, and wild grapes and drink nectar.
Redstarts, also known as common redstarts, belong to the Muscicapidae family.
Female redstart songbirds have duller coloring with brown bodies and blue-grey backs and wings. A male bird sings a sweet two-phrase song, while a female usually does not sing at all.
The species feed on invertebrates, mollusks, berries, and a variety of other fruit.
The cedar waxwing is a member of the family Bombycillidae; it is closely related to the robin, which spends most of its time close to the ground.
It is extremely rare to see one alone, as they’re social birds, and prefer being in the company of other birds.
With broad wings, short necks, and large heads, these social birds are medium-sized, sleek birds. They feed primarily on bugs and berries, with pale brown heads and yellow bellies.
So, there you have it! 13 birds that may look like robins at first glance but are actually quite different. Although they share some physical characteristics, each of these birds has its own unique plumage, song, and behavior.
So, next time you see a bird that looks like a robin in your backyard, take a closer look to see if it’s actually a robin! You might be surprised by what you find.