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European Robin – Garden Bird Identification Guide

Erithacus_rubecula

European robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Above photo: © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0

robin
Robin

The Robin is one of the Nation’s favourite garden birds! It is the 9th most common bird in the UK according to the Birdwatch 2016 survey, but for many people it is the most loved.

Identification

About 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 inch) in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly. Young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown. It is not only common in the UK, but can also be found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south as far as North Africa.

 Erithacus_rubecula
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

What do Robins Eat?

Robins eat worms, small insects and seeds. When their food source becomes scarce in winter they will eat just about anything put out for them on a bird table, especially fatty foods such as bacon rind and cheese. Robins are territorial birds and will aggressively defend their area. They will also return to known food sources, so if you put some seeds out on a bird table or hang a bird feeding station (see more about them here) then Robins will come back almost every day to feed.

Robin from The RSPB on Vimeo.

 

Nesting / Breeding

 

Robins pair up for the breeding season (April to June) only. When a male robin has found a mate, he will strengthen their bond by bringing the female food, such as worms and caterpillars, which she begs for noisily while quivering her wings and can be mistaken by the observer to be the mother feeding her young. Most nests are located on or near the ground in hollows, tree roots, piles of logs and any other situations that provide a fully concealed cavity.

Once the female has laid her eggs, she stays in the nest for up to two weeks, crouching low over them, well concealed with only her brown back visible.  The male brings her food, sometimes as often as three times in an hour.

Both parents take responsibility when feeding and looking after their chicks until they are two weeks old when they can fly and become fully independent, they will then leave the nest. The young hatch after 12-15 days, and become independent after 3 weeks.

Pairs of Robins which raise an brood early in the season are more likely to have a second or third brood in the same year.  The female will sit on the clutch of 5-7 eggs while the male continues to feed and look after the year’s first fledglings.

How to Attract Robins to Your Garden

Robins will eat almost anything, especially in winter. A good quality garden bird seed mix in a squirrel proof bird feeder will have Robins attracted to your garden in no time!