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What does your robin get up to?

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 18 Dec 2009 at 04:53 PM

Since posting the last blog, a few people have told me robin stories, short anecdotes about the robins they see in their gardens and the local area. They nearly all concern the boldness of these small birds.

A robin inspecting the greenhouse

Robins have such tiny bodies and their legs are so thin they hardly look strong enough to support them, yet they make themselves known more than almost any other garden bird. They are daring and feisty and will defend their territory to the death against intruding robins. When a potential mate arrives, it can take the resident robin a while to accept the stranger’s presence and stop chasing it away.

‘Our’ robin is a bold one; it will sit a mere couple of feet away as I dig, waiting for me to find it food. At the old garden, if the food had run out, it would sit on the greenhouse and stare in through the kitchen window until I had remedied the situation. I’ve also heard of other robins staring in through the windows when they want food and even of one who would tap on the window with its beak.


The robin at our old garden - it would look into the kitchen from here


Then there are the robins that watch you in summer, as you have your dinner in the garden, and fly down to take scraps from the edge of your plate. They seem to know they won’t be stopped and come back for more. Eventually, you can encourage them to eat out of your hand. It takes a bit of patience but isn’t meant to be especially difficult.

Hang up a coat, put down a hat, leave your boots outside for an hour and don’t be surprised to discover on your return that a robin has claimed it and already started making a nest. The above picture was sent to me by a friend who came across an old coat in some woodland and, sure enough, there was a robins’ nest in the pocket.



Robin's nest found in a coat pocket


So, what does your local robin do? Have you seen it nesting somewhere unusual? Does it come into your kitchen and get under your feet? Let’s have some more robin stories. 


BB said:

Lovely photo's Miranda. I love watching the Robin in the garden, it is such an endearing little bird.

on 19 Dec 2009 at 04:38 PM

EvaInNL said:

Saw a Robin yesterday at the local goat farm where it was jumping from the back of one grazing goat to the other and checking if there was anything it could eat. I tried to take pictures but it kept jumping around so I couldn't catch.

On the same farm, in the parking lot, another Robin was checking in the tire tracks of cars that were leaving if there were any insects there.

Ingenious and daring they may be but I get the feeling that they're not in to heights, I live on the 7th floor and see quite a number of birds, but never Robins, shame...

on 21 Dec 2009 at 07:53 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

That's interesting, Eva. I wonder what your robin found on the goats? They're smart little birds, aren't they. I think the heighest manmade structure I've seen a robin on is a house roof - wonder if they will ever visit your balcony? Hope they do one day!

on 21 Dec 2009 at 03:07 PM

richardpeeej said:

Nice article and pictures Miranda, I haven't seen any robins in our garden for a few years, perhaps I should dig up some earth to see if any come there.

on 21 Dec 2009 at 08:02 PM

miranda said:

If your local robin sees you out working, Richard, it will soon come for a closer look!

on 22 Dec 2009 at 07:42 PM

Sani said:

We discovered Robin nesting in our balcony in a plant pot 3 weeks ago, I managed to snoop around and take some pictures of the eggs, 5 in total. Very Beautiful! What can I put out for them to eat, other than worms?

on 17 May 2010 at 11:54 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Hello Sani, if you really want to please a robin, then you can buy some live mealworms. Robins love them. Put some out a couple of times a day in a little dish (so the worms don't crawl out) and the robin start to keep a watch out for you. Mealworms are quite dry and not unpleasant to handle, though they can be quite lively when it warms up. I like to put some slices of raw potato in the box with them. They eat the potato and it might make them juicier for young birds.

Another thing I do is, if I find vine weevil grubs in a pot, I put them out for the birds and they've usually been taken within about ten minutes.  

on 19 May 2010 at 06:25 PM