We are all familiar with the old tongue twister that goes something like this, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” When I was a young boy I often wondered how much wood that would be. Long ago I stopped wondering the answers to such whimsical questions. Nowadays, I am intrigued by other mysteries such as how fast can a bird fly and how much food can a wild animal consume. For example, I have long wondered how many earthworms an American robin can devour in a single day.
Earthworms are an important component of the American robin’s diet. In fact, roughly 40 percent of the bird’s diet is comprised of earthworms. Many of these earthworms are captured in our yards. In fact, seeing a robin pulling a long worm out of the ground is a familiar sight in many yards across the state.
As it turns out, robins are exceptionally skilled at hunting earthworms. Remarkably robins have been found to capture upwards of 20 earthworms an hour. Another way to look at the American robin’s ability to pluck these slimy critters from the ground is illustrated by the fact that a single robin can eat up to fourteen feet of earthworms per day. Wow! I am impressed.
Do you have the jumping worms (Amynthas agrestis, Metaphire hilgendorfii, and one other Amnythas) in your area? They are in the soil throughout the Chicago area including the northern suburbs where I live. I see the robins eating jumping worms here, and think I am seeing more robins than usual.
I am sorry to say that this exotic has reached Georgia too. There is concern that it is going to supplant native species.