Robin specimen at the Museum of Zoology

Birds: Meet the Robin

Robin specimen at the Museum of Zoology
Robin specimen at the Museum of Zoology ©University of Cambridge

Roz Wade, Learning Officer a the Museum, writes:

Robin photograph from Bird Bingo sheet

We are starting our Birdwatch series on the blog with one of our favourite British birds: the robin, Erithacus rubecula. With its cheerful red breast, the robin provides a flash of colour throughout the year. Seen one? It’s worth three points on our Open Your Window Bingo

Like many people, a robin was my ‘starter bird’ for getting me interested in wildlife. They are at ease with people, so you can watch them at quite close quarters. Dig the soil over in your garden and, with a little patience, a robin may come to feed on any worms you uncover.

The song of the robin is melodic and high-pitched. Even if you can’t see a robin, you might hear it. Robin song is a common sound in the woods behind our house: here is a film I made of a robin singing from a tree. You might just be able to see a silhouette of the bird near the top of the branches. Listen carefully and you can hear another in the distance.

Robins singing credit: R Wade

Most of the robins in this country don’t migrate, staying here all year round. They defend territories through the autumn and winter, as well as during the spring and summer when they are breeding and rearing chicks. In the spring, a male robin will sing and posture to establish its territory and warn off intruders, the red breast acting as a threat. If this doesn’t work, they can attack. While breeding territories are protected by a pair of robins, the male and female will have their own territories through the winter.

In spring, the female builds a nest close to the ground but well hidden. She begins laying in April and will typically have two and sometimes even three broods a year. Both parents will bring food to the chicks once they have hatched.

Want to find out more? You can find lots of information about robins on the BTO website and the RSPB website where you can also find sound clips of their song.

Have you seen any robins in your garden or through your window? Send us your sightings – we’d love to see your wildlife at home.

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