European Robin

August 14, 2015

The European robin most commonly known in Anglophone Europe simply as robin is a small passerine bird. It can be found throughout many parts of Europe and is the most easily recognized by the people. It has an orange-red breast and face, olive-brown wings and back, a white to light-brown belly. You can sometimes see a blue-grey fringe around the bottom part of the robin’s red breast patch. European robins have brown legs and their tail is bluntly square. They have large, black eyes and a small black bill.

The sexes are very similar, if not identical, though some texts suggest that the brown forehead is “V” shaped in females, and “U” shaped in males, though even this is not always apparent. They have a brown bill and legs.

The juvenile Robin has speckled buff-brown upper parts and underparts. They have no red feathers so that adult birds do not attack them in territorial disputes. The speckled feathers are lost in a partial moult when the bird is about two to three months old.

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European robins have a lovely warm, warble that consists of a melodic rippling of notes. In autumn and winter, some say their song becomes more mournful and melancholy than it is in spring and summer. Their call is a sharp, highly pitched ‘twick’ or ‘tick’ that can be repeated in a series of rapid outbursts. This call is used as a warning signal or as a proclamation of their territory. European robins are notoriously territorial and can be quite aggressive to fellow members of their species who are unwelcome within their claimed plot of earth. During the spring and summer this territoriality is for breeding, but at other times individual robins hold territories for feeding.

The Robin’s diet is principally insects and worms, which it will normally catch by swooping, that is to say, snatching its prey on the ground after watching for movement from a perch above. They will also often follow a gardener that is digging the soil over for any easy pickings.

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When the 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 is often mistaken by the observer to be the mother feeding the young. 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. Robins breed from April through August.  After hatching, the young are ready to fledge in two weeks. As many as three broods may be raised in one year. European robins are not endangered or threatened and their populations are increasing in some parts of their range.

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