The European Robin is one of the most recognisable garden birds to people of all ages. This is not only because it is so common and a regular decoration at Christmas, but also because it has little concern being around us. Many of us have a local Robin that visits and maybe a little friendlier than the other birds. But is this always the same bird and what sort of relationship can you claim to have. So in this article, we will answer the question, do robins come back to the same garden?
As a general rule, Robins will come back to the same garden due to their territorial nature. They may be particularly interested in sites where they know that they will have easy access to food, often because of the friendly human they follow.
Why Are Robins Such A Friendly Bird?
An interesting piece of science here is that this foraging behaviour actually mimics other wild behaviour. It is not some special form of domestication we have achieved with this bird. Robins know to follow behind large animals that disturb the ground while foraging in the wild. For example, Robins in the New Forest know that Wild Boar is pretty messy when digging around for food. They tag along to pick up the collateral damage from these feeding expeditions and don’t bother the boar in the process. So, we are essentially two-legged boars with more sophisticated digging tools.
Robins Will Want To Build Territories In Gardens With Attentive Owners
It isn’t enough to have Robins follow us around picking up the insects and worms disturbed when gardening. There may be long stretches where we can’t go out and dig the soil, which means the birds need alternative arrangements. Make sure to put out a variety of options for your birds on feeders and bird tables. The Robins will enjoy picking up food from the table while other songbirds fight for a place on feeders. They may even take leftovers from the ground. Mealworms are an excellent substitute for the creatures dug up, and you can get them alive or dead. Suet and broken up fat balls also help in winter.
Robins Are Very Defensive About Their Territories
Another factor that suggests you are seeing the same bird in your garden is that they are highly territorial. Birds can see off potential rivals in angry displays. The first step is to use their voice to warn off the intruder – the higher the perch, the better. This is better than getting too physical, where fights could result in injury and too much expended energy.
This issue of aggression and territorialism between Robins leads to an interesting fact about their plumage. We all know the Robin as a red-breasted bird – partly through Christmas imagery and partly because those chest feathers are very noticeable. However, it takes a while for those to develop so that adult males don’t regard them as potential competition and kill them. The red feathers then come in on the first moult.
Does That Mean That We See The Same Robin Year After Year?
We have to consider that the bird may not have survived the winter and this identical-looking creature took over the territory. It may even be their offspring. Unless your Robin friend had a notable physical feature, such as a ring on its leg or leucistic plumage, you may never know for sure.
With that said, the lifespan of the Robin does mean that it could easily stay in your garden for years. Of course, it all depends on how well it survives the winter and defends the territory from other individuals. Young robins that survive into adulthood can thrive for many years, and the record currently stands at 19 based on data from a ringed bird.
The Nesting Habits Of Robins
The breeding season, from courtship until separation, can be quite long. The birds will come together on territories in January to pair up. Males and females may re-establish old bonds from the previous season, or females may go elsewhere if they encounter a male with a better territory and prospects. Then won’t start to breed in a suitable nesting site until much later, when it is warmer and food is in better supply.
Where Do Robins Tend To Nest?
One thing you may notice about Robins during the breeding season is that they aren’t fussy about where they nest. There are many great natural places for Robins to nest, from crevices around tree roots to log piles and hedges. These may not seem that safe so close to the ground, but they are also easy to walk past.
There are also many cases of Robins using man-made places for their nests. This could be an abandoned building or a piece of machinery. There are also stories of people leaving their boots and hoodies in a shed over the winter and finding nests in them that spring. It is another way that we create that stronger tie with this little bird.
Robins Have Strong Parental Instincts During This Time
It isn’t uncommon for Robins to try for a third brood at the end of the season and be successful. Some may even go for a fourth if the season is long and food is plentiful. The more chicks they raise, the more of their genes there are in the next generation. This can also lead to an overlap where the birds are multitasking. For example, the female may incubate clutch number three while the male feeds the second brood.
There are even cases of robins helping to feed the chicks of other species. It seems that the instinct to feed when they see a gape of a fledgling is just that strong. So, your local Blackbird and Song Thrush families may have benefited from childcare services via your Robin friend.
Make Friends With Robins In Your Garden And They May Come Back
Think about all this the next time your Robin friend comes to say hello as you dig the garden. There is a lot to appreciate about their efforts and their help removing pests. Therefore, it is even more important that we take the time to provide suitable nesting sites and supplemental feeding all year long. Nurture those relationships and you will get a lot more out of them.
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