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European Robin – Garden Bird Identification Guide


European robin (Erithacus rubecula)

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


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.


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.

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!




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Garden Birdsong – Audio

garden birdsong audio

Listening to Garden Birds

Do you recognise these birds from their birdsong alone?

While you may not think that you consciously listen to birdsong all the time, all those pretty little chatterings and singings of garden birds do carve their mark in our brains. That’s why, when you’re driving out of the city and into the countryside, you feel a strong surge of nostalgia whenever you hear the intense calls and songs of wild birds.

Chances are, you’ll recognise a lot of birdsong when you hear it recorded or when you hear it in the garden. You look around thinking, ‘I know you, who are you again?’ Then you spot a blackbird sitting on the fence belting out his best song. ‘Ah, of course, a blackbird.’

Garden birdsong is buried within our memories and we recognise all the common ones. But, when it comes down to it, can we actually connect the song to the bird?

And how amazing would it be to sit out in the garden with friends or family and say, ‘there goes the bluetits again,’ without even looking around to check who’s singing?

With a bit of practice, connecting the birdsong to the right bird doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when some of the loudest and most confident singers are common birds like robins, blackbirds and tits.

European Robin Birdsong

Ok, so we’ll start off with an easy one. The European Robin is one of Britain’s most loved garden birds. This iconic fellow doesn’t migrate and instead entertains us all year round. Hopping around the garden summer and winter, robins are also typically unafraid of humans and often follow gardeners around.

So you’ve seen robins throughout your life and perhaps even have a resident robin in your garden. You’d recognise him in a split second by sight, but do you recognise his song? When you hear it as you’re eating breakfast, do you know it’s the robin?

Mistle Thrush Birdsong

The Mistle Thrush is a common Northern European garden bird that is a bold and aggressive feeder. Often forcing other garden birds off a bird feeder while the thrush pecks around, scattering seeds everywhere! Juvenile birds often look scruffy and can be difficult to identify. It’s upright stance and definite hops on the ground help to separate it from the common thrush.

Golden Eagle

I would love to see a golden eagle, but I’m guessing that many of you are like me and unlikely to see one in our gardens! These magnificent birds are native to the Highlands of Scotland and their piercing, screeching cry can be heard from a long way off.

One of the best ways to spot a golden eagle when you’re hiking in Scotland is to listen out for its cries. When you hear the call of the golden eagle, you’ll look up and see this feathered giant circling nearby.

You can read more about eagles here from the National Geographic.

If you are looking for some no mess bird feed, we have a great guide here