European Robin

Erithacus rubecula

The European Robin , most commonly known in Anglophone Europe simply as the Robin, is a small insectivorous passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family , but is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher . Around 12.5–14.0 cm in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly. It is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa; it is sedentary in most of its range except the far north.

The term ''Robin'' is also applied to some birds in other families with red or orange breasts. These include the American Robin , which is a thrush, and the Australian red robins of the genus ''Petroica'', members of a family whose relationships are unclear.
Rudolph the Rednose Robin European Robin devouring a berry ;) Erithacus rubecula,Humor,birds,cold,red,robin,snow,winter

Appearance

The adult European Robin is 12.5–14.0 cm long and weighs 16–22 g , with a wingspan of 20–22 cm . The male and female bear similar plumage; an orange breast and face , lined by a bluish grey on the sides of the neck and chest. The upperparts are brownish, or olive-tinged in British birds, and the belly whitish, while the legs and feet are brown. The bill and eyes are black. Juveniles are a spotted brown and white in colouration, with patches of orange gradually appearing.
The European robin, known simply as the robin or robin redbreast. Scientific name: Erithacus rubecula The European robin, known simply as the robin or robin redbreast.
Scientific name: Erithacus rubecula Erithacus rubecula,European Robin,France,Geotagged,Robin,Winter,robin redbreast

Naming

In its large continental Eurasian range, Robins vary somewhat, but do not form discrete populations that might be considered subspecies. Thus, Robin subspecies are mainly distinguished by forming resident populations on islands and in mountainous areas.
The Robin found in the British Isles and most of western Europe, ''Erithacus rubecula melophilus'', also occurs as a vagrant in adjacent regions. ''E. r. witherbyi'' from Northwestern Africa, Corsica, and Sardinia closely resembles ''melophilus'' but for a shorter wing length. The northeasternmost birds, large and fairly washed-out in colour are ''E. r. tataricus''. In the southeast of its range, ''E. r. valens'' of the Crimean Peninsula, ''E. r. caucasicus'' of the Caucasus and N Transcaucasia, and ''E. r. hyrcanus'' southeastwards into Iran are generally accepted as significantly distinct.

On Madeira and the Azores, the local population has been described as ''E. r. microrhynchos'', and although not distinct in morphology, its isolation seems to suggests the subspecies is valid .
european robin european robin in rain searching for food
 Erithacus rubecula,European Robin,Fall,France,Geotagged

Distribution

The Robin occurs in Eurasia east to Western Siberia, south to Algeria and on the Atlantic islands as far west as the Azores and Madeira. It is not found in Iceland. In the south east, it reaches the Caucasus range. British Robins are largely resident but a small minority, usually female, migrate to southern Europe during winter, a few as far as Spain. Scandinavian and Russian Robins migrate to Britain and western Europe to escape the harsher winters. These migrants can be recognised by the greyer tone of the upper parts of their bodies and duller orange breast. The European Robin prefers spruce woods in northern Europe, contrasting with its preference for parks and gardens in the British Isles.

Attempts to introduce the European Robin into Australia and New Zealand in the latter part of the 19th century were unsuccessful. Birds were released around Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin by various local Acclimatisation societies, with none becoming established. There was a similar outcome in North America as birds failed to establish after being released in Long Island, New York in 1852, Oregon in 1889-92, and the Saanich Peninsula in British Columbia in 1908-10.
Closeup portrait of a European Robin in Hoenderloo  Erithacus rubecula,European Robin,Geotagged,Hoenderloo,Netherlands,Summer

Behavior

The Robin is diurnal, although has been reported to be active hunting insects on moonlit nights or near artificial light at night. Well known to British and Irish gardeners, it is relatively unafraid of people and likes to come close when anyone is digging the soil, in order to look out for earthworms and other food freshly turned up. Indeed, the robin is considered to be a gardener's friend and for various folklore reasons the robin would never be harmed. In continental Europe on the other hand, robins were hunted and killed as with most other small birds, and are more wary. Robins also approach large wild animals, such as wild boar and other animals which disturb the ground, to look for any food that might be brought to the surface. In autumn and winter, robins will supplement their usual diet of terrestrial invertebrates, such as spiders, worms and insects, with berries and fruit. They will also eat seed mixtures placed on bird-tables.

Male Robins are noted for their highly aggressive territorial behaviour. They will attack other males that stray into their territories, and have been observed attacking other small birds without apparent provocation. Such attacks sometimes lead to fatalities, accounting for up to 10% of adult Robin deaths in some areas.

Because of high mortality in the first year of life, a Robin has an average life expectancy of 1.1 years; however, once past its first year it can expect to live longer and one Robin has been recorded as reaching 12 years of age. A spell of very low temperatures in winter may also result in significant mortality. This species is parasitised by the moorhen flea, ''Dasypsyllus gallinulae''.
european_robin european robin in rain Erithacus rubecula,European Robin,Fall,France,Geotagged

Habitat

The Robin occurs in Eurasia east to Western Siberia, south to Algeria and on the Atlantic islands as far west as the Azores and Madeira. It is not found in Iceland. In the south east, it reaches the Caucasus range. British Robins are largely resident but a small minority, usually female, migrate to southern Europe during winter, a few as far as Spain. Scandinavian and Russian Robins migrate to Britain and western Europe to escape the harsher winters. These migrants can be recognised by the greyer tone of the upper parts of their bodies and duller orange breast. The European Robin prefers spruce woods in northern Europe, contrasting with its preference for parks and gardens in the British Isles.

Attempts to introduce the European Robin into Australia and New Zealand in the latter part of the 19th century were unsuccessful. Birds were released around Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin by various local Acclimatisation societies, with none becoming established. There was a similar outcome in North America as birds failed to establish after being released in Long Island, New York in 1852, Oregon in 1889-92, and the Saanich Peninsula in British Columbia in 1908-10.
European robin tweeting on a tree branch in garden. The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) on a tree branch in garden Bulgaria,Erithacus rubecula,European Robin,Geotagged,animal,beak,beautiful,bird,branch,breast,cheerful,chest,chirp,chirping,close,closeup,erithacus,europe,european,eye

Reproduction

Robins may choose a wide variety of sites for building a nest, in fact anything which can offer some form of depression or hole may be considered. As well as the usual crevices, or sheltered banks, odder objects include pieces of machinery, barbecues, bicycle handlebars, bristles on upturned brooms, discarded kettles, watering cans, flower pots and even hats. The nest is composed of moss, leaves and grass, with finer grass, hair and feathers for lining. Two or three clutches of five or six eggs are laid throughout the breeding season, which commences in March in Britain and Ireland. The eggs are a cream, buff or white speckled or blotched with reddish-brown colour, often more heavily so at the larger end. When juvenile birds fly from the nests they are mottled brown in colour all over. After two to three months out of the nest, the juvenile bird grows some orange feathers under its chin and over a similar period this patch gradually extends to complete the adult appearance.
European Robin  Erithacus rubecula,European Robin,France,Geotagged,Winter

Cultural

The robin features prominently in British folklore, and that of northwestern France, but much less so in other parts of Europe. It was held to be a storm-cloud bird and sacred to Thor, the god of thunder, in Norse mythology. More recently, it has become strongly associated with Christmas, taking a starring role on many Christmas cards since the mid 19th century. The Robin has also appeared on many Christmas postage stamps. An old British folk tale seeks to explain the Robin's distinctive breast. Legend has it that when Jesus was dying on the cross, the Robin, then simply brown in colour, flew to his side and sang into his ear in order to comfort him in his pain. The blood from his wounds stained the Robin's breast, and thereafter all Robins got the mark of Christ's blood upon them. An alternative legend has it that its breast was scorched fetching water for souls in Purgatory. The association with Christmas, however, more probably arises from the fact that postmen in Victorian Britain wore red uniforms and were nicknamed "Robin"; the Robin featured on the Christmas card is an emblem of the postman delivering the card. Robins also feature in the traditional children's tale, ''Babes in the Wood''; the birds cover the dead bodies of the children.

Another view is that as winter drew near, the swallow, the cuckoo and the martin flew south whilst the English Robin remained to celebrate Christmas.

In the 1960s, in a vote publicised by ''The Times'' newspaper, the Robin was adopted as the unofficial national bird of the UK. The Robin was then used as a symbol of a Bird Protection Society.

Several English and Welsh sports organisations are nicknamed "The Robins". These include the professional football clubs Bristol City, Swindon Town, Cheltenham Town and, traditionally, Wrexham FC, as well as the English Rugby League team Hull Kingston Rovers . A small bird is an unusual choice, though it is thought to symbolise agility in darting around the field. Moreover, the Swindon Robins is the full name of the local Speedway promotion.

References:

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Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyMuscicapidae
GenusErithacus
SpeciesE. rubecula