Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Robin

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(1) Robin
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(5) Robin
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The Robin

Now that winter is nearly upon us,(01-10-2002) it is time to look out the nut feeders that have lain unused since the start of summer. The seeds of grass, thistles, dandelions and the like will soon be gone, as well as the caterpillars and other insects that they feed on, leaving the small birds looking to our gardens for food so that they can survive another winter.

They will have built up a fat reserve during the good feeding times that we jokingly call "Summer"? Well, summer was dreich for most of the time, except September which was lovely and dry, giving the grasses and the like time to seed, and all the associated creepy crawlies and bees etc to go about their business pollinating plants and the like. We can't feed all the birds, but we can help a few species to thole the winter with a chirp on their beak.
One such species that we seem to enjoy helping is the one that seems to be on every second Christmas Card, The Robin! This small bird with it's brightly coloured breast, chin, and face appear in their hundreds, or so it seems at this time of year. The robins that we see in our gardens are usually the resident variety, but we get an influx of northern European variety in the winter time. Some of our Scottish females migrate south for the winter, and even going as far as the continent for a bit of heat, returning in the spring to take up residence on their usual patch, which the male has defended since she left. Robins can be a nasty piece of work when it comes to territory.
They can be seen fighting for their area with another robin, which can be that fierce that at times the end result can be fatal for one of them. If they don't get killed in a fight, then their greatest enemies are domestic cats and motor cars which both take a heavy toll. If you have a cat, then a small bell attached to it's collar will give all birds an early warning. Motor cars today are that quiet and fast that a robin flying from hedge to hedge may not see or hear them, and so become a casualty.
You will hear a robins song even in the dark as they will be active even by the light of a street lamp, so if you hear a lovely song on your way to work in the dark, then it is sure to be a robin trying to make your day start with a lovely warble. So if on your way to work there is a tree or bush with a robin in it, then a few crumbs of bread or a bit of fat will be most welcome, and will help it to serenade you on your way on many more mornings. It doesn't take much to keep them ticking over. They are ground feeders, so nut feeders do not appeal to them . They will go to a bird table ok, but most of the time they prefer to be on the ground, with quick flights to catch any flying insect that passes.Still put out your nut feeders and fat balls as there are a host of other birds that will be eternally grateful if you do so. Green, Chaf, and Gold, Finches. Great, Blue, and Coal, Tits. Siskins, House Sparrows, Starlings all love the peanut and most other variety of nuts as well.

Blackbirds and Dunnocks on the ground, picking up the food that has been dropped. Your garden could be a myriad of colours if all these birds chose to arrive at the same time, so keep the feeders full or they will move to somewhere else and not return until that somewhere else runs out of food , then they may return to your garden. Do you keep a record of the birds that come to your garden to be fed? Why not start doing so and compare your records daily or weekly with friends or relatives that could be encouraged to do the same. All this from your window and the comfort of your home will give you an interest and help our feathered friends.


Norrie Mulholland.

First published in the Buteman 2002       



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