Meet the Model – Rocky the Robin

Say hello to the European Robin , Erithacus rubecula.

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The Robin aka the Robin Redbreast is embedded into British folklore. It features in traditional children’s stories and is strongly associated with our notion of a traditional British Christmas. It’s bright red breast features on many traditional Christmas cards.

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Legend has it that when Jesus was dying on the cross, the robin, then simply brown in colour, flew to his side and sang into his ear in order to comfort him in his pain. The blood from his wounds stained the robin’s breast, and thereafter all robins got the mark of Christ’s blood upon them.

Rocky fact : Robin’s will not enter standard nest boxes with round entrance holes.

In the 1960s, in a vote publicised by The Times, the robin was adopted as the unofficial national bird of the UK. The bird also is associated with several British sporting clubs including  the professional football clubs Bristol City, Crewe Alexandra, Swindon Town, Cheltenham Town and  Wrexham FC, as well as the English rugby league team Hull Kingston Rovers.

The Robin is a year round resident in the UK, but a small minority of female Robins migrate to southern Europe during winter, a few as far as Spain. Both the male and female feature similar plumage, both with the distinctive red breast. The male bird is extremely territorial and will aggressively defend his territory, attacking any similar sized birds that try to muscle in on their patch.

Reproduction

Robins may choose a wide variety of sites for building a nest. They will make use of anything that can offer some shelter. The nest is composed of moss, leaves and grass, with fine grass, hair and feathers for lining. Two or three clutches of five or six eggs are laid throughout the breeding season, which starts in March in Britain. The eggs are a cream, buff or white speckled or blotched with reddish-brown colour. When juvenile birds fly from the nests they are mottled brown in colour all over. After two to three months out of the nest, the juvenile bird grows some orange feathers under its chin and over a similar period this patch gradually extends to complete the adult appearance.

Because of high mortality in the first year of life, a robin has an average life expectancy of Just one year, if the Robin survives past the first year it can expect to live longer Upto 5/6 years , however this is the exception and rarely happens in the wild. Cold weather and prolonged spells of very low temperatures in winter significantly increases the mortality rate.

Rocky fact : Every Robin  has a unique breast pattern that can be used to identify individually birds

Diet

The Robins usual diet consists of invertebrates, spiders , worms and insect however during autumn they also will supplement their usual diet with berries and fruit.They will also eat seed mixtures and mealworms placed on bird-tables

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Fact File

Full name       Erithacus rubecula

Weight             13-25g

Length             14 cm

Wingspan        20-22cm

Lifespan           Normally 1-2 years

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