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Robins and Christmas


Why is the Robin associated with Christmas?

  

 

Robins are resident in this country all year round so why do we tend to associate them with winter and in particular with Christmas cards?

 

Letter carriers or postmen in the early to mid 1800s wore a predominately scarlet uniform and became know as ‘redbreasts’.  At Christmas time postmen were obviously more in evidence and so the robin ‘redbreast’ began appearing on Christmas cards as a representation of the postmen and their ‘red breasts’.  The robin’s ‘real’ name is redbreast. ‘Robin’ is a familiar and affectionate nickname – ‘Robin’ Hood has the same origin.

 

 

Erithacus rubecula   Robin Redbreast

 

Length: 14cm

Wingspan: 20-22cm

Weight: 14-21g

Eggs: 4-6

Incubation: 14 days

Fledging: 10-18 days

Maximum lifespan: 8 years

 

The robin is a common sight in Britain all year round and can be seen in gardens, parks, woodlands and hedgerows.  They are very territorial birds and have an aggressive nature. However they are very confident around people and often when gardening, you will find a robin appearing a couple of feet away from you, ready to pounce on any worms and insects you may have uncovered whist digging.  They can even be trained to take food from your hand.

 

Robins are not fussy where or when they nest. Nests have been recorded in every month of the year although their normal breeding season is March to June. Most nests are located on or near the ground in any place that provides a fully concealed cavity e.g. hollows, nooks and crannies, climbing plants, hedgerows, tree roots, piles of logs or more unlikely places such as kettles, hanging baskets, sheds and boots! Robins will readily use nest boxes with an open front sited in a hidden location.  The female builds the nest from moss and dead leaves, and then lines it with hair.

 

Both the male and female robins sing almost all year round and only stop for a short time in late summer while they are moulting.  They can even be heard singing at night!.

Click here to here the robin’s song (BBC link).

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