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Rockin’ robin

Posted: Wednesday 21st December 2016 by Nature Notes

If there’s one bird every child can name, it’s the robin. Every winter that familiar red breast is a staple of Christmas cards and gardens.

Nationally, robin numbers have increased over the last 30 years

Confirmation of its popularity came last summer when it was voted Britain’s first-ever national bird. Males and females look identical, while young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown.

Nationally, robin numbers have increased over the last 30 years. They are in even ruder health in Surrey, thanks to our expanses of woodland and number of gardens. Even in cold winters, survival rates are relatively good because people put food out.

The robin is one of the few birds in the UK that sing all year round, usually from a concealed perch within a bush or a tree. They are also well adapted to poor light and are often among the earliest birds to start the dawn chorus and the last to stop in the evening. Street lights and other artificial lighting can even trigger singing in the middle of the night.

Belying its stature, the robin is aggressively territorial and one of the few birds that hold a territory all year round. In summer a territory is defended by a mated pair, while each bird holds individual winter territories. In fact, this defence of territory is the purpose of its red breast, which isn’t used in courtship.

Showing their gentler side, robins seem to have lost much of their fear of man and are perhaps the easiest birds to feed from the hand.

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