Rossendale Free Press
Territorial robins can get up close and personal
THIS morning, I had three encounters with robins as I was walking the dog through the woods and meadows near my home.
It was dark when we first went out, but I caught a glimpse of something moving in the bushes.
It was almost in the corner of my eye but I knew it was a robin because it was not in the slightest bit bothered by my presence.
You can generally be sure of two birds when you are out and about.
The robin will literally sit in front of you and dare you to enter its territory, flying away as you get within a couple of feet.
If you hear some loud rustling in leaf piles along the path and think “that must be a large mammal?”
You will be wrong, it’s a blackbird looking for worms and insects.
Robins start to hunt before the sun rises and in spring they will be up to start the dawn chorus with their warbling song. They can be heard all year round, singing from the tops of trees.
My second robin was sitting on a wall, regarding its human and canine intruders.
If there had been a snow-filled background, rather than the mud that has dominated the end of this year, it would have made the perfect Christmas card.
Robins are seen as a Christmas bird, appearing on many of your cards, and it’s probably because their red breasts stand out in the snow.
The appearance of a robin in our garden on Christmas Day is always an extra, surprise gift.
This was a young, slender robin, although it would have puffed up its feathers if the weather had been colder. It waited and waited and then hopped off into the woodland to get a bit of peace from wandering humanity.
Of course, the reason the robin seems to be cheeky and eager to meet us is down to it defending its territory. Robins will chase other birds away, particularly other robins, if they dare to tread a foot into their spot of woodland or garden.
Unless the winter is really cold, you should generally only see one robin on your bird table at a time. Males will start to allow females onto their turf in spring, for breeding purposes, but will chase them away at other times.
My third robin of the day was waiting for me on the garden wall, pretty much demanding that I put out some seed, mealworms and raisins. I duly obliged and the robin hardly let me walk two steps away before launching in for a feed.
Many people are reporting fewer birds on bird tables this winter, that is probably because insects are still flying and the ground is soft enough to dig out lots of worms.
Our bird tables tend to be supplements to the diets of the local bird population, but when a cold snap comes it is difficult to find their usual food.
The robin will join the sparrows, blackbirds and starlings that dominate our bird feeders.
It adds a splash of colour to our late 2020 garden.
So the message is keep your bird table stocked, first thing in the morning, especially after a cold night.
As you celebrate this unusual festive season make sure you continue a tradition – or routine – of feeding the birds.