The Red, Red Robin – 5 Robin Facts

Of all British birds, the robin is probably the most loved.  With its distinctive plumage this small, plump bird is easily recognizable by everyone from children to adults.  And if you’ve been listening to the radio at all this month, you’ve probably heard more than enough of how the “red, red robin is bob, bob bobbin’ a long”.  So in honour of this well-loved winter time bird, here’s five facts you might not know about robins.

That Red Breast

Both males and females have the distinctive red breast for which they are well known.  This puts them apart from a great many bird species where typically the male will possess a particularily dramatic plumage in order to attract a mate as ornithologists well know.

Juvenile robins develop the red plumage around two to three months old when they molt.  Before this they are a speckled brown colour which helps them to avoid being seen as a threat and attacked by other robins. 

Food and Diet

A robin's natural diet includes insects and worms which they typically catch by swooping down to grab it on the ground.  They can often be spotted lurking around gardens, especially in the colder months watching gardeners digging up flower beds and the like in the hopes that a tasty worm or something might be uncovered. 

Other than that, robins are actually quite omnivorous.  When food is scarce, as it often is in the winter months, they will gladly eat nearly anything they can get their hands on.  Seeds such as sunflower seeds are loved and they have been even known to eat mealworms offered by hand.  They're also quite happy to eat bacon rind and other fatty foods if left out on a bird table.

Fiercely Territorial

Robins are fiercely territorial birds once they have established a feeding ground and will aggressively attack other robins they perceive as interlopers on their patch.  Other bird species such as blue tits, coal tits and dunnocks will also be attacked and driven off if the robin is capable.

The only exception to this is the robin's mate.  But even this takes time and at first the other bird is, at best, tolerated. 

An All Year Round Bird

Although best known for their appearance in winter where their red plumage makes a striking contrast with a snowy landscape, British robins rarely migrate to warmer climates.  They exist all year round in the UK and can be found at any time of year.

Generally they are more noticeable during the winter months because most other bird species have migrated to warmer climates.  Aside from there being more bird species about in the summer, it is also the time when the robin moults and it is typically less vocal and prominent at this time of year while it does so.

Night-time Singers

Robins have a distinctive song which is most notable around Christmas time when it is generally coldest.  However they are often mistaken for nightingales due to a propensity for singing at night time.  This may be because they mistake street lights for day light, or it may simply be an ever vigilant bird keeping an eye on its territory at all hours of the night. 




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