The most American bird.

Fourth of July. You see a lot of American symbolism. Bald Eagles are part of it. That’s okay. We like Bald Eagles. But we don’t see too many of these big birds in our American neighborhoods.

What we do see, and what you probably saw this morning when you went out, are American Robins.

We don’t want to rock the symbolism boat, but we think the American Robin could’ve made a decent national bird. It’s the most American bird we’ve got.

It’s cheerful, brave and successful. American characteristics. And tough. When a pollutant (DDT) decimated Bald Eagle populations until it got banned, American Robins were still everywhere.

This bird’s name was mangled by Europeans who didn’t understand what they were seeing. (That’s why we keep saying “American Robin,” the correct term).

Europeans mistook our new world thrush for their old world “Robins.” They were thinking about a little European flycatcher with orange in front and brown on top. The Robin. Completely different bird. Pilgrims didn’t have binoculars and probably weren’t interested anyway, so they called our orange and brown thrushes “robins.”

(A European name that’s incorrect is nothing new. Explorers dubbed Native Americans “Indians” because they thought this was India.)

Like a lot of Americans, the American Robin has got oil-related problems looming. Some of these birds migrate. They get scarce in winter, then fly back to remind us when spring’s coming.

But, what’s going to happen this year? Will the American Robins who head to the Gulf coast find a livable environment? Will they return after a season down there? Well, they’re American birds. They’re tough. What’s more American than the ability to make a comeback?

Let’s be optimistic.

2 Responses to “The most American bird.”

  1. Gary Pavek says:

    Your assertion that DDT “decimated Bald Eagle populations until it got banned” is not correct. That information has been widely disseminated but has been disproven repeatedly. For more information, see:

  2. N. Schaefer says:

    And boy, do we need both now……