Think you know about robins? Think again!

PUBLISHED: 07:49 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:48 02 November 2015

EXG JAN 14 WILD ABOUT

EXG JAN 14 WILD ABOUT

Archant

With its plump crimson breast and sumptuous song, its endearing boldness and long-standing association with the Yuletide season, the robin is among our most familiar and most cherished birds.

With its plump crimson breast and sumptuous song, its endearing boldness and long-standing association with the Yuletide season, the robin is among our most familiar and most cherished birds. Characterised as the loveable ‘Robin Redbreast’, with an amiable nature and a pleasing predilection for perching cheekily atop gardeners’ forks and bringing a warm splash of colour to the snowy winter landscape of many a Christmas card, it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that this charismatic little bird has earned its rightful place in the nation’s heart as well as its folklore. However, when it comes to our perceptions of other species, we humans – even the most rational, reasoning and liberal-minded of us – often let our hearts rule our heads, romanticising or demonising at the drop of a hat and for the flimsiest of reasons. All too frequently, such stereotyping results in unjustified enmity, even outright persecution. But for the robin, things seem to have worked in reverse, as our cosy rose-tinted notions have elevated this bird to the status of national treasure. But these birds are no more deserving of our adoration than other creatures are of our bitter scorn, and in the case of the robin it would seem that we have been well and truly hoodwinked.

Far from being favourably disposed towards humans, as we like to think, robins merely see us as an easy source of food, especially when we’re digging in the garden, conveniently unearthing a steady supply of juicy, wriggling worms. And far from having a friendly disposition, robins are both fiercely territorial and savagely aggressive, unwilling to tolerate another male in their territory and more than willing to violently attack, even kill, any transgressor. Consequently, when brazenly belting out their sensuous song from a prominent perch or the handle of a garden spade, they are, like all birds, either directly soliciting for sex from a passing female or belligerently asserting their territorial rights to a rival male – or both.

Curiously, the robin’s rapturously beautiful melody, undoubtedly among the finest of all our birds, is not only delivered all year round, but sometimes also in the dead of night. Fooled into thinking it is daytime, these hapless birds will sing their hearts out under the neon glare of our streetlights, even into the early hours, and in the depths of winter there can be fewer more warming spectacles to greet those of us who are late to bed or early to rise.

Robins seem to have quite a knack for lifting our spirits and stirring our emotions. There is clearly nothing wrong with having an emotional response to these birds and, as social animals ourselves, such responses are a part of our own evolutionary heritage.

However, for the sake of those unfortunate species that seem only to have earned our snarling contempt, it is important to be aware that our perceptions of other creatures – our likes and our dislikes as well as our loves and our loathings – often have very little to do with fact.

 

 

More from Christmas

Are you stuck for things to do this winter? Essex is home to some truly magical places perfect for a family day out or a special event to get you feeling festive. Here are 9 locations you have to visit this season

Read more

When winter comes and a frost settles all over our county’s prettiest locations, you’re presented with so many fantastic photographic opportunities. Here are 19 times Essex was prettier than a Christmas card

Read more

As part of his feature on why he loves Christmas in Essex, the kitchen icon has given us a deliciously easy pork, sage, onion and chestnut stuffing recipe

Read more

Never has our environment been higher up the agenda of global concern, so this year more than ever, perhaps it’s time to ease off the excessive consumerism and have an eco-friendly Christmas?

Read more

The elves are getting ready to open the doors for the Magical Christmas experience at Cressing near Braintree and Witham this November

Read more

Ad Feature Ingatestone Christmas Market returning this December 8

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Following last year’s successful debut, the Christmas Market in Ingatestone this year will be held on Sunday 8th December from 12noon – 6pm

Read more

The festive season at Pig & Whistle Restaurant is a treat of warm lights, ribbons and festive cheer

Read more

Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Essex Life