The Friendly Robin
BY AWAKE! CORRESPONDENT IN BRITAIN
LONG before the russet tones change our Northumberland woodlands into the mellow setting of autumn, the robin makes his presence felt. His bright red breast and the silvery cadences of his song add color and joy to our garden. What a delightful fellow he is!
The robin is easily recognizable by his olive-brown shoulders and head; his orange-red breast, throat, and forehead; and his whitish belly. This rotund bird, ever alert, stands jauntily erect, measuring five and a half inches [14 cm] from tip to tail. In 1961 the robin was chosen, not surprisingly, to be Britain’s national bird.
The British robin is smaller than his American counterpart, which early colonists from England gave the name robin, a name familiar to them. The British robin, however, has a character all his own.
When autumn approaches, the robin comes into his own in a British garden. He will stand close to a person digging in the soil and watch for a worm to come to the surface. At times, when the gardener rests, the robin will perch on the spade to survey the scene. This cheeky bird has even been known to follow the track of a mole to explore its newly excavated mounds. The robin’s diet is varied—insects, seeds, and berries, as well as worms.
What a delight it is to find a robins’ nest! Any open shed door or window is an invitation to the mating pair. Nests can be built quickly in old flowerpots or discarded kettles, on coils of wire, or even in the pockets of a gardening coat! Robins’ ingenuity in finding unusual nesting sites knows no bounds.
The robin is one of the easiest birds to train to feed from your hand. As winter approaches and his natural food supply dwindles, place some food on your open palm—pieces of cheese or mealworms—and some on a stationary object close by. After two or three feedings during which the robin consumes this latter food supply, he will gain confidence and take samples from your outstretched hand. Although he may never alight on your fingers, the robin will from then on always view you as his friend. He will not have forgotten you when he returns next season—just as you will not have forgotten your friend, the robin!