Feed the Birds
Now that Winter has arrived early spare a thought for the birds, especially the much loved Robin (Erithacus rubecula).In 2010 RSPBBig Garden Birdwatch, the Robin was the seventh most frequently recorded bird. Did you know? Robins feed mainly on invertebrate animals, such as insects, spiders and worms, but also consume seeds and fruit. On the bird table they will eat chopped meat, fat, cheese and crumbs and are very partial to beetle larvae or mealworms!
I had no idea that both male and female robins are similar in appearance with the characteristic red breast and head. Their young are brown with a speckled chest. However I did know that Robins are very territorial, as we have recently completed a major building project and my Robin had moved into our empty garage which has since been converted into a utility and boot room, he/she was very put out and made a great deal of noise about it. In retaliation Robin tried to move into the main house or inhabit my car and was very disgruntled at our arrival! Robins maintain their territories all year round, often singing in winter to defend their feeding areas. Apart from the breeding season, Robins hold individual territories but pair up and mate in March. All nest building and sitting on eggs etc falls to the female. Generally nests are constructed from moss and dry leaves and made in a sheltered place, or inside open fronted bird boxes.
A typical Robin clutch would be four to six eggs, the eggs are white with reddish/brown mottling. Incubation is about two weeks, and chicks become fledglings in another two weeks. The juvenile birds are fed for about three weeks after they have left the nest. Most Robins manage two broods in a summer but occasionally more! Despite the high mortality rate of young birds, Britain’s robin population stands at about 5-6 million pairs.
- A Robin’s red breast helps advertise its presence when defending its territory
- Territorial fights between birds can be to the death
- Robins live for about one to two years, but the oldest recorded Robin lived to the great age of eight years and four months
- Adult Robins weight about 18 g and are 14 cm long with a wingspan of about 21 cm
- Robins occur across the whole of Europe and into western Asia
FIVE TOP WINTER BIRD FOODS:
- Fat balls/bird cakes – make your own by melting suet but don’t use left over cooking fat as it clogs bird’s feathers
- Mealworms – Robins’ favourite treat, alive or dried and available in pet shops
- Seeds – Sunflower or commercial mixed seed can be offered all year round, especially good for finches and nyger seed will attract goldfinches
- Peanuts – ideal Winter bird food – good for Greenfinches, Tits, Nuthatches and Spotted Woodpeckers (not good when young birds are around)
- Cheese – grated and high in fat as a Winter bird food – favoured by Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens