The national bird of the United Kingdom, the European robin is a compact songbird and a common sight in many gardens, woodlands and backyards. Despite their amiable appearance, however, these can be very aggressive and territorial birds.
European Robin, English Robin, Robin, Robinet, Ruddock
- Bill: Short, pointed, black
- Size: 5-6 inches long with 8-9-inch wingspan, round head
- Colors: Buff, white, orange, olive brown, blue-gray
- Markings: Genders are similar with an olive brown head, nape, back, tail and wings. The orange face, throat and upper breast may be faintly bordered by a blue-gray wash, particularly around the face. Underparts are buff or white with a faint orange wash along the flanks. Legs are pale.
Insects, spiders, worms, fruit
Habitat and Migration:
European robins can be easily found in open woodland areas as well as urban and suburban parks, gardens and backyards. This is one of the most common garden birds in Europe, with year-round populations found in much of western Europe as well as the British Isles. Summer populations extend as far north as Scandinavia and west through much of northern Europe, while winter migrants may visit the edge of northern Africa and the Middle East.
European robins are welcomed for their high pitched, warbling, flute-like song that ripples and rises at the end. Both genders may sing in the evenings and into the night, particularly after the nesting season ends. The typical call is a rapid “tik-tik-tik-tik-tik.”
Despite their friendly appearance and musical song, these can be solitary, aggressive, territorial birds. Populations in the British Isles are generally tamer and may even be fed by hand, but European robins elsewhere are often elusive. These birds will puff out their orange chests in aggressive displays, and when confronted with other robins they may attack and injure their competitors. In some cases, European robins have even been known to attack their own reflections.
These birds have various courtship behaviors to reduce the territorial aggression between mates, including ritual feeding that the male will continue throughout the incubation period as he cares for the female on the nest. A mated pair can produce 2-3 broods of 5-6 eggs each annually, which must be incubated for 12-14 days. Young birds are cared for by both parents for 14-16 days until they are ready to leave the nest.
Attracting European Robins:
These intelligent birds have learned that gardeners turn up soil to make finding worms and insects easier, so they readily come to backyards with small cultivated areas. Birders who leave loose mulch and soil available can attract these birds, and they will also come to tray feeders offering seed or mealworms. Avoid applying pesticides that may eliminate European robins’ food sources, and consider planting shrubs that yield berries for a winter food source.