I have been feeding the birds for years now and there has usually been a Robin among them but up until this year I haven’t paid them much heed.
Then one day in late Spring I was sitting at the PC upstairs when I noticed a Robin peering in the window at me as if he were trying to catch my attention. I realised why when I went downstairs five minutes later and found his ‘wife’ trapped in the kitchen below. Soon afterwards I noticed a wee brown bird feasting on my raspberries and I realised this was the fruit of the courtship I had witnessed.
Robin parents look after their young for about four weeks and sometimes will produce another clutch. Bobby was the only one I saw of this nesting and I am assuming he is male as the females tend to disperse. Also his ‘hairline’ seems to be more U-shaped than V-shaped, the only obvious indicator of gender-in Robins anyway. I never saw his feckless parents again.
Soon he developed the distinctive red breast and made himself at home beside the house. In the spare room there are two small windows set deeply into the wall against the hedge and I sometimes find Bobby sitting on the ledge especially when it rains. He gets a terrible fright when he realises I am there and jumps at the window to scare me away and flies off.
As well as staring into the rain Bobby also likes his reflection in the car window. He will sit still on the door for long periods in quiet companionship with himself. As it leaves the car streaked with shite I have tried putting him off by leaving the window open so he can discover there is no other Robin in the car but he avoids the car until I roll the window back up. I have put mirrors out for him but he attacks them -Robins are known to fight to the death over their territory-but he won’t attack his reflection in the window. It is as if its very shadowiness makes it less threatening, a companion rather than a competitor
When I put out food, seeds and worms for him along with fat balls for the others, the Sparrows easily chase him away. He retreats to a briar and whistles and pipes and puffs up his feathers in fury. After a while he will go and sit by his reflection and calm down. He seems to be more unsure, more neurotic than the average Robin. Maybe I am projecting…
A Robins call is supposedly melancholy in the Winter and passionate in the Spring but mostly Little Bobby’s call is outraged. I imagine if he could he would write angry letters to the paper complaining about marauding gangs of Sparrows, impolite Wagtails and the general decay of hedgerow life. Or I am projecting again. Still, I can see why he needs to meditate so much…
I have taken to keeping an eye on the skies for predators and chasing away next doors prowling cat for fear that she will take him as he contemplates either himself or the rain. I chased her down the wall running alongside the drive the other day and she ran so fast that she fell sideways into the gorse hedge which, though I am a cat lover, was great entertainment. Sorry cat.
Hopefully Little Bobby will be around a while yet. Maybe the Spring will bring him a girlfriend though most Robins have paired up by this time. I guess so far he has been too busy with his reflection to notice any girl Robins. We shall see.