Good morning and welcome to Lowes winter wonderland!!
Only a couple of inches at most fell over night so it wasn’t too much of a struggle to make it to work. I was greeted by wildlife galore this morning, including 2 deer who wandered curiously past my car as I parked.
I was also welcomed by Mr Robin as he awaited his breakfast. Then another robin, and another, and another. In fact I think there is currently 6 robins chasing each other about. Last winter we had 15, and I think it was so cold that they just put up with each other and the dunnocks.
Species of the day: European robin (Erithacus rubecula)
The robin is an insectivorous passerine bird that belongs to the Old World flycatcher family (Muscicapidae), although it was once considered to belong to the thrush family (Turdidae).
It’s range spreads across most of Europe, east in Siberia and south to north Africa. Only the most northern and eastern birds migrate. Subspecies of robin are distinguished by forming populations on islands and mountain ranges. In the UK, the subspecies is Erithacus rubecula melophilus.
The males and females are very similar in appearance and size with an orange breast and face, with grey-blue on the sides of their necks and side. The upperparts are brown-olive, while the belly is white-ish. The legs and feet are brown and the bill and eyes are black. Juveniles are mottled brown and white with orange patches appearing. An adult is about 5″ long and weighs about 20g.
Robins will build their nests on a wide variety of sites including odd places such as watering cans, bicycle handlebars, discraded kettle and hats. Their nests are composed of moss, leaves and grass with finer grass, hair and feathers interwoven for lining.
Breeding starts in March and 2 – 3 clutches of up to 6 eggs are laid throughout the season. Incubation lasts about 15 days and fledge after another 15 days. It takes about 2-3 months before the orange breast starts to appear.
Young robins have a very low survival rate and the average age is 13 months. if they survive to this age then they are more likely to live longer with the average age of an adult being 5 years. The oldest recorded robin was 12 years old!
The males are very territorial and will attack other robins and small birds if they enter it’s territory. About 10% of all adult deaths in robins is due to an attack by another robin. They are also the prey of sparrowhawk, owls and the domestic cat.
However they can be very tame around humans, often waiting by gardeners side for a tasty worm, and with a bit of patience can be encouraged to feed from your hand (or mouth if you prefer!)
Their diet consists mainly of insects such as beetles, earthworm and larvae such as mealworm. They will each fruit and seeds in autumn and winter and at Lowes they love their peanuts!
They are great songbirds and have often been mistaken for nightingales as they have a tendency to sing right into the night, particularly in areas which are noisy during the day and during breeding season.
The robin has featured predominantly in British folklore, but in Norse mythology it is sacred with Thor, the God of thunder as a storm-cloud bird. Since the mid-19th century it has been associated with Christmas and legend has it that the robin sang into the ear of Jesus as he was crucified and was stained on it’s breast with the blood of Christ. Other legends suggest it fetched water for the souls in Purgatory and it’s breast was scorched. The Christmas connection is probably to do with Victorian postman who were nicknamed ‘Robin’ whilst delivering Christmas cards. The robin has been adopted as the UK’s unofficial national bird.