Celebrating the Robin

A big thank you to JOHN HODGE for the delightful images in this article that inspired us to celebrate the robin...

I have been enjoying John Hodges’ lovely images of robins taken on his walks close to his home in the south of Pembrokeshire. I have two very different but equally strong memories of robins .

The first was as a child, watching the cheeky robin who would appear when my Dad put his wellies on, and then perch on his spade to get a better view of the worms Dad  turned over while digging. It made the job very difficult for my Dad, as the robin didn’t seem to be afraid of what damage the spade might do to his little feathery self. His courage and determination impressed me very much.

The second memory is from a couple of years ago and upset me badly. I recall spending a good hour trying to persuade  a trapped robin out of an outhouse. When he finally realised where the exit was, there was a moment of euphoria  watching him  soar with delight into the sky… straight into the claws of a sparrowhawk who appeared out of nowhere.

Seeing John’s lovely images inspired me to find out a little more about robins, maybe in memory of those two little fellows long gone from the world .

I tend to think of robins as male, so I had a look at what a female robin looks like. I assumed they were dowdier, as are blackbird ladies, but not so.

Actually girl robins look just like boy robins, which makes them difficult to tell apart. The youngsters are spotted and a golden brown, but they all develop that characteristic red breast as adults. The birds are fiercely territorial, and the red breast is about defending territory, which they do in mated pairs in summer, taking up their own individual territories when the youngsters have left home.  

Home for the young ones can be in all sorts of strange places, some in use daily. Under car bonnets, inside kettles or boots, or in hanging baskets… these are just some of the paces a robin may fancy setting up home. The nests themselves are built by females from moss and leaves and hair.

The male makes sure his lady is fed while she builds and lays their eggs. A normal clutch can be four to six eggs and they are incubated for about 13 days. The little naked chicks, when hatched, will need another 16 days or so of total dependence on their parents. Once they have their feathers, it is usually Dad who takes over for the next three weeks. Mum is by then preparing for more little ones as they usually produce about three broods a year. There is a high mortality rate and the birds should never be disturbed when nesting in case they abandon their offspring.

Robins generally only live for a couple of years, feeding off worms, seeds, fruits and  insects.

Both male and females sing, and they sing all year round, though winter can be devastating for these little creatures as they need to consume a lot of food, especially in the cold. A bird table can be a lifesaver if the temperature drops in winter and remains cold for more than a few days


Thanks to John Hodge who has kindly allowed us to use some images he has taken on his many walks about Pembrokeshire. You can read more about  John and his lovely wife, Judith. (He makes amazing love spoons, as well as taking photographs, and Judith is a fine crafter.) Thank you, John, for sharing your robins with us.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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