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Animal Fact File: Robin

Name: Robin

Scientific Name: Erithacus rubecula

Description: Often considered to be Britain’s favourite bird, the instantly recognisable European robin, robin redbreast or simply robin, is a familiar sight throughout the year, particularly in winter. There are estimated to be 6,700,000 breeding robin territories in the UK.

A robin sitting on a tree in winter

Species: Robins are insectivorous passerine birds, specifically a chat. Passerine birds make up more than half of all bird species, and can be identified by the arrangement of their toes – three pointing forward and one back to help them perch.

Colouring: Male and female adult robins have similar plumage with an orange to red breast and face, cream, buff colour underside and light brown back and wings. Their beaks are short and thin. Juvenile robins are spotted brown and white all over, with patches of orange gradually appearing.

Length: 14cm

Weight: 14-21g

Wingspan: 20-22cm

Habitat: Robins can be found in Western Europe, from Poland to Spain all year round. They also summer in Scandinavia (excluding Norway), the Baltics and Eastern Europe including Russia and will winter in North Africa. Their habitat is mainly spruce woods, gardens and parks.

Diet: Robins are insectivorous, eating insects and invertebrates, worms, seeds and fruit.

Breeding: Robins lay clutches of five or six eggs in the breeding season, beginning in March. Baby robins will be able to leave the nest t around 13 days old, and after two to three months grow their adult feathers. Most pairs of robins try to raise three broods a year, some manage five.

Lifespan: One to two years.

Other Facts:

  • Robins have been associated with Christmas since the Victorian era; Victorian postmen were known as robin redbreasts because of their red waistcoats are thought to be the inspiration.
  • Robins are typically the bird you are to hear singing most often, singing at dawn and at dusk.
  • The vocalisations of a robin are a fluting, warbling song.
  • The robin was adopted as the unofficial bird of the UK following a vote by The Times in the 1960s, and again in 2015 by a poll from birdwatcher David Lindo.
  • Robins are very territorial, the males particularly are aggressive, and will attack other males and competitors that stray into their area.
  • They are so aggressive, there have been instances robins will attack themselves, seeing their reflection in a window, glass or water.
  • Every robin has a unique breast pattern, so can be recognised individually, with some difficulty.
  • There have been attempts to introduce the European robin to Australia and New Zealand, but all have failed.
  • If you want to bring robins into your garden with a bird box, go for open fronted boxes, as they do not like round entrance holes.
  • Robins are happy around humans, sometimes even coming to feed out of a person’s hand.

Why not get yourself a homeware item featuring a robin, or add some new items to your shooting wardrobe such as a tweed shooting jacket or cap? You can also check out some of our other blogs on Britain’s wildlife.