Robins. We’ve probably all spent at least the last three weeks looking at these, peering cutely out of the front of Christmas cards. But there’s a lot more to these birds than a Christmas card ever conveys, and now is a good time to see them. There are no leaves on the trees or bushes and robins, in the UK at least, can be pretty bold. They’re one of our commonest birds and, just now, probably the only bird singing on the reserve (or in your back garden). so read on for some rockin’ robin facts!
The robin is often called the “robin redbreast” but a quick look at any picture of a robin soon shows that the breast is definitely orange. So why “redbreast”? Well, “orange” as a colour wasn’t known in the UK until the sixteenth century, when the first oranges were imported here. But robins were around before that, so “redbreast”. The “robin” comes from adding human names to familiar birds….like Robin Redbreast, Tom Tit or Jenny Wren.
Robins (and blackbirds and thrushes) all look like they’re “listening” for worms when they hunt them on the grass. But they’re actually looking – because their eyes are set towards the sides of their heads, they can see the ground better by tipping their head to one side.
Robins also have a cute image that is entirely inaccurate! They are extremely stroppy and up to 10% of all robin deaths are in fights. They are notorious for attacking their own reflection in windows and mirrors – so as spring comes on, watch out for this. But we love them, as they are bold and follow us around the garden. It’s a bit less flattering to think that (for a robin) we’re fulfilling the same role as wild boar though. Boar root up and disturb the soil, allowing robins access to insects and worms, exactly as we do in the garden!