Robin

I was taking an evening stroll around the garden when this robin alighted upon the apple tree. It looked at me as if to say; “It’s time you started doing some gardening. Get digging and turn over some worms for me!” Note how beautifully in focus the foreground branches are and how blurry the robin is, the camera battery ran out before I could get a decent shot of it!Photo of a robin redbreast

Last summer I managed to get some photos of a young robin, possibly this very one, or maybe its offspring.photo of baby robin

The European robin, Erithacus rubecula, is regularly voted Britain’s favourite bird. They are regular garden visitors all year round, often hanging around whilst people are digging. Their bright orange breasts are a flash of cheerful colour during winter, they are popularly depicted on Christmas cards. They used to be called “Ruddocks”, but during the fifteenth century were more commonly called “Robin Redbreast”. Photo of baby robinThis was because the name of the colour orange was unknown in the UK until the sixteenth century when the fruit was first introduced.

Fiercely territorial they sing all year round, and thanks to street lighting all night too. The males and females both have the red breasts, but the young are a speckled brown. Robins are perhaps the least wary of our wild birds. In continental Europe they were hunted for food along with other small birds, but the Britishย  considered it unlucky or just plain wrong to harm a robin. There is a legend that the robin was originally a plain brown bird that got its red breast after singing to Christ on the cross.

Illustration of Babes in the Wood

By Randolph Caldecott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

They also make an appearance in the anonymously written ballad, “The Babes in the Wood.” Sadly the eponymous babes die in the woods and their bodies are covered over by kindly robins. This theme also appears in Shakespeare’s play, “Cymbeline, King of Britain”

“… the ruddock would,
With charitable bill,–O bill, sore-shaming
Those rich-left heirs that let their fathers lie
Without a monument!–bring thee all this;
Yea, and furr’d moss besides, when flowers are none,”

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13 thoughts on “Robin

  1. They’re a lovely little bird and I was surprised to find we have Robins here in Australia (when I saw one mid last year by the river – lousy shot though). Interesting fact about the colour orange.

      • I expect so RR, but interestingly enough there are 15 different Robins in my Birds of Australia guide book. Cats, dogs, foxes, blackbirds and many other English critters probably came out with the first fleet of ships in the late 1780s. Others have come via boat with Asian fishermen when they’ve entered our waters in more recent times. The hideous cane toad landed in northern Queensland and reproduced to what is now a plague level. They’ve travelled from the far north of Australia and are now being seen as far south as the Victorian border. I did hear about Chinese traditional medicine being interested in this Toad, but have not heard whether the Chinese are encouraged to trap them or not. There are other ‘Asian’ insects which have entered our country via The Boat People too.

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