Winner of Round 1: Firecrest! With over 69% of the vote, England’s flyweight champion takes the first crown! Thanks to everyone that voted!
Right, on to Round 2! This time, we’ve moved up to the bantamweight category (5-20g). There are plenty of eligible contenders for this round but after careful consideration, please welcome the European robin (Erithacus eubecula)!
The European robin is one of the few British birds that will be instantly recognisable to almost everyone in the country. This small insectivorous passerine is a common visitor to many gardens, and will especially be attracted to any freshly turned soil where there may be easy access to delicious earthworms.
The robin’s iconic red breast may not make for the best camouflage, but it’s essential when it comes to making new robins. The brighter and more prominent the chest, the more threatening you appear to rivals and the more attractive you appear to potential mates. But sometimes you need more than just good looks to impress others…
Lovers and Fighters
Robins are known for being fiercely territorial, and whilst plenty of other garden birds can be equally aggressive, the robin is one of only a few bird species that hold their territory all year round. Male robins don’t migrate in the winter, and will maintain their patch through the summer and winter, whilst the females will hold a personal territory during the winter and seek out a nearby male’s patch to join during the summer.
Robins defend their land with an impressive range of warbling territorial calls…
…and can also produce short, rapid alarm pips when threatened…
If a robin feels that the other bird isn’t getting the message from just vocalisations, they will resort to more physical deterrents. Here’s a short demonstration of what happens when you place a fake robin in another robin’s territory:
But it’s not all about aggression! Once a male and female are shacked up together, the male robin will strengthen the bond with his partner by feeding her worms and caterpillars almost like a mother bird would to her offspring. Who says chivalry is dead?
The Nation’s Favourite Bird
Last year, there was a poll asking the people of Britain to vote for their favourite national bird. Over 200,000 people responded and with 34% of the nation’s votes, the robin won the right to be the country’s unofficial national bird, beating the likes of the barn owl, the blackbird and the kingfisher.
The robin’s appeal to us as a nation appears to be down to a mixture of their fabulous plumage, their constant presence in our gardens and their cultural association with Christmas, when they feature prominently on all sorts of festive goodies.
So that’s England’s plucky entry, check out Zoologist Jones for the Australian entry for Round 2!
— Featured Image Photo Credit – Frode Falkenberg / Flickr–