January 2012 - The Robin

The robin - Lin's back garden

Robins are much loved garden residents – recognised by all and evident all year round in virtually any environment, urban or rural, woodland or parkland. These iconic birds epitomise winter wonderland scenes. Robins are solitary birds, except when raising young when a pair is seen together. They have a particular song which identifies their territory. Woe betides any other robin that ignores this song as the territory will be aggressively defended. They have been known to sing at night next to outside lighting primarily in urban areas, leading some to confuse them with nightingales. The female tends to move from the male’s territory in winter to increase food resources for both; their songs will then become more plaintive.

 Male and female robins are difficult to tell apart; both are plump with orange-red breasts, faces and cheeks. They have brown upper parts, light bellies with brown legs and beaks. Youngsters are speckled brown, only acquiring their red breasts after their first moult at 2 to 3 months old.  

I suspect that quite a number of Bawburgh residents have had robins nest in their gardens and outbuildings – in the most obscure and surprising of places, such as old cars, kettles, plant pots etc. Have any of you put up those open-fronted robin nest boxes available in pet shops and garden centres? These must be installed in equally obscure places for the robins to be tempted. Nests are made from moss, dead leaves, grass, hair and wool. The eggs are cream, buff or blue with brown spots. They are incubated by the female robin alone but when the eggs hatch the male helps feed the young. Food consists mainly of insects and worms. They are notorious for befriending gardeners especially when digging is occurring making food easy pickings. In winter when you are putting food out for the birds, the robin will be particularly fond of fruit cake, or sunflower hearts. Birds may be so tame they can be hand fed with such robin delights as meal worms.

 The robin is not considered to be at risk, although the Norfolk Wildlife Trust has reported that they may have become slightly less widespread recently. The RSPB have reported nearly 5,895,000 robin territories in the UK as a whole. Numbers of birds increase in the winter with immigrants from continental Europe, primarily Scandinavia. These birds tend to keep to the woods and are not seen in our gardens.



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