Singing Robin Success!

I have been planning to put together a NatureWatch profile featuring the American Robin, but I’ve been missing some really good singing sequences. So on this clear-sky early April morning, I set out to remedy the situation … and what good luck I had!

I arrived at the “Cornell Plantations Arboretum” area promptly at 7am, just before the sun began hitting the treetops. The place is full of robins, with males already quite busy setting up their territories. Fortunately, most individuals are tolerant of people, due to the large number of visitors that walk the trails.

What more could one ask … “friendly” birds that will perch nearby and and sing for you … for free!

American Robin portraitWell, it’s never quite that easy, but my odds were greatly increased for sure. Altogether, I videotaped three singing males. The first two were “so-so” in terms of the quality of the footage. But then I found a fairly colorful male singing in the open at the top of a tree. He didn’t seem to care a whit about me walking around the tree, looking for a good angle! Success at last!

Before leaving, I followed a group of robins as they looked for earthworms in a grassy area, and I managed to snag a nice clip of one swallowing a worm! At one point, the group flew up into a sumac shrub and nibbled at the berries, and I got a snippet of that behavior. I am told that sumac berries are not a preferred food, but robins fresh back from migration aren’t too fussy!

Another fun catch was a Blue Jay giving musical notes as he bobbed up-and-down. Very exciting, and totally unexpected. Surprisingly, Blue Jay footage is a challenge to get, at least during breeding season when they lay low.

Please note that the audio is not at all that good. When I incorporate this footage into final videos, I will clean things up considerably, and I may even resort to using other of my recordings and dub them in, “lip-synching” for optimal effect.

In order to get excellent sounds for the great footage of the singing robin, I plan to go back on the first calm morning and get very clean recordings of that exact same robin, using a big parabolic microphone. Since he repeats many of the same phrases time and again, I fully expect to end up with “perfect sound” for that clip when I add it to my forthcoming American Robin NatureWatch profile.

lang_pic_for_newsletterNOTE FROM LANG: This post is part of my early experimentation with blogging brief, immersive “video vignettes” that feature completely fresh video just gathered in the field. If these are well-received, it gives me (and other members of our team) a nice way to share videos quickly, without worrying about each production being “perfect”. I like the concept. Do you?

Video Metadata
Singing Robin Success!
Singing Robin Success!

This video shows footage highlights from April 3, 2014, including a singing American Robin, a robin catching a worm, and a Blue Jay calling as it bobs up and down.


  1. Just what I needed to hear this morning….as our spring this year is stuck in “slow” gear and sometimes reverse!!! Their springtime singing is so sweet. Thank-you for the great site.

  2. Nature life enjoying is for free (almost)
    …for free (english) = gratis (spanish)
    Do you know the meaning of the word gratis? from the latin is gratia = grace, like ‘gracias’ in spanish, and they from the latin: grado = will, grace and will, as a gift, from whom? … from Him our dear Father, of course: infinite thanks!.
    I enjoyed this clip, blogging brief as you said, it is fresh and natural… go ahead Elliot!

  3. I am trying to remember how long I have been following your’s and Will’s work. From your books and CDs with frog and toad calls to insects, you have inspired me to get out and learn more about the inhabitants of my yard. So thank you for that and yes, I do like the videos and blog content… Michelle

  4. Lang,
    Loved the videos and the concept of Fresh from the Field. Look forward to seeing more. It’s fun to see the birds singing close-up – it’s also nice to see the sun after such a long, cold winter. Keep it coming.

  5. I just want to say that this website has inspired me to get outside and look at nature in a new way, and I must sincerely thank you for that! I used to go out hoping for something exciting or rare…but your videos have made me realize that every outing is filled with wonder and marvel. I went out today and just watched the robins eating and tousling with each other, and I felt very fulfilled just to be a part of their world. Thank you for the wonderful message you have brought to all of us!

    • Beauty surrounds us.

      Beauty in front of us. Beauty behind us. Beauty to the right, to the left, above, and below us.

      Beauty all around us and beauty within us.

      We need only open our senses, explore, discover, and enjoy.

      What could be simpler? …

      (actually, it is quite a challenge in our society to rest in this mindset for long)

  6. Love the idea of the “fresh from the field” videos. I am primarily a listener to bird song, frog and insect calls and other sounds of nature, so I enjoy being able to see the sound maker up close and personal. It’s important to record these behaviors. Keep the videos coming!

  7. I love your video blogging, your posts, your newsletter, and your music of nature blog. Keep it up. It brings great joy to those of us who cannot wander the wilds as you do. I follow you as much as I follow the Cornell nest cams. Please….don’t stop!

  8. Hi Lang,
    After a very long day of work, how nice to have this vignette notice in my email. The quality of the video is spectacular. I will be in the field doing habitat monitoring and bird counts with a student this summer and am wondering if a video recorder like you showed me this summer is something we should consider for recording sounds, and a 360 of each point count stop. Thanks for this site!

    • Diane.

      The camcorder I use for amphibs and insects is a Canon XA-20. It’s a pro model, but they make a less expensive version with the same sensor and quality for considerably less. It’s the Vixia HF-g30.

      For bird work, things are much more complicated. I use a 500mm lens and various DSLR bodies. Sound is captured separately, using an entirely different setup.

      For documenting habitats and getting some ambient recordings, the camcorder is a much better option.,

  9. I am not too far from Cornell down here in Scranton, PA so we are getting the same visitors. Their songs tell you spring is really here. It is neat to have those close-ups for sure.

  10. It’s quite wonderful to watch so closely while he sings, and the light is just beautiful. I like the “video vignette” idea! It encourages people to listen to and watch what’s going on around around them.

  11. It does the winter-worn heart such good to hear and see robins! and blue jays with their funny, Joe Cool do-si-do. Thank you so much for this glorious, marvelous site — full of wonder for eyes, ears, mind, and spirit!

  12. Wow! This video footage is amazing. After suffering through the “endless winter,” what a wonderful, hopeful sign that spring is on its way. I’m so glad I stumbled across your website.

    • Thanks Annie. I hope to get into a “flow” of video content publishing, posting both informal video-vignettes via blogging, and more formal video compilations via our NatureWatch profiles.

  13. I’ll tell you what more one could ask … Lang to capture such fascinating early spring wild natural avian beauty, that’s what! So thank you warmly from my heart Lang, I utterly delight in the robins and in this brief vignette. Makes life fine, you know? Nice blue jay cameo, too!

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