R is for Robin
This beautiful image of a UK robin redbreast was taken by Ross Elliott on Flikr.
The robin is my favourite British bird. They are so round and cheerful, with such a wonderfully jaunty carriage as they hop and bounce around the garden.
They tilt their heads and look straight at you with their bright, black, round eyes and you can sense their intelligence.
Robins came to be associated with Christmas in the UK because our postmen used to deliver cards dressed in cheery red, and were nicknamed ‘robins’. I wonder if blue-tits will now become the bird of choice, now our posties are in blue?
Robins are also special to us because they are known as the gardener’s friend – they will sit in company of someone digging the soil, waiting to take advantage of the disturbed worms.
They also have a beautiful, liquid song – they have been mistaken for nightingales when singing at night, kept awake by the street lights. And they even sing during the winter.
Although friendly birds and easily tameable here, in Europe they are much shyer as there they are caught in nets, or shot and eaten, or even shot for sport.
Chris Packham, the nature journalist (@ChrisGPackham) has campaigned against such practises as those in Malta, where there is an annual mass slaughter of more than 24 species of protected, migrating songbirds from 30 European countries.
Robin males are attentive partners, and will feed the female while she is sitting in the nest assiduously.
They are feisty little birds and will fight another robin to the end if it strays into their territory, causing many robin casualties – however the main reason for robin deaths are cats.
The RSPB suggests keeping cats indoors with a litter tray at night from 8pm until 8am the next morning – for the sake of all birds, at all times, but particularly in the breeding season.
Here is my robin poem:
Of all the birds,
robins are best,
with bright, round eyes
and long, slim legs,
and sweet moss nests;
and proving they’re
they both wear red
hearts on their breast.
Poem © Liz Brownlee
Photo © Ross Elliott.
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