New Kids on the Block: Claiming a Territory
ANSWERS to Viewing Questions

Q. Are either of the robins looking for food?
A. No—they’re looking at each other.

Q. An American Robin is about 25 cm (10 inches) in length. Using that as a gauge, make an estimate about how close these two robins stay from each other.
A.They seemed to stay about 1-3 feet apart, getting as close as about 8 inches.

Q.The robins were building up tension, and finally flew at each other. How long did the battle last? Why do you think they stopped fighting? Why do you think they stayed together after the battle?

A. The battle lasted about 2 seconds. Fighting is very dangerous for birds, with their hollow bones and their large eyes. So the robins quickly stopped fighting. But neither of them clearly won the battle, and they both still wanted the territory, so they both stayed in the contest.

Q. Where did the third robin come from?
Laura Erickson thinks that one was older than the other two. Why did she come to this conclusion?

A.The third robin didn’t suddenly stop and run a short distance, as the inexperienced birds did. It aggressively flew up to each one, and stood its ground.

Q. When the third robin flew in, one robin stood its ground for a few seconds. The second robin almost immediately flew off. Why do you think the first robin flew away with the second robin instead of battling the new bird?

A.The first robin recognized that the new bird was more aggressive and experienced. New birds on a territory almost always lose to experienced birds who have been defending the territory for a season. These robins knew it was time to get out of that territory.