We have a crazy little robin redbreast at Lou Messugo: he sits on a bar across the windowsill and regularly, every minute or so, flies into the window, tapping it with his beak. I can hear the noise from the other end of the house. It’s like someone’s throwing pebbles at the window to get our attention. It seems quite deliberate and has been going on for a few days now. He also sings his heart out. Which is nice. I just don’t like him throwing himself at the window. Not only might he get hurt but it’s making a greasy smudgy mark on the glass (and there’s an awful lot of bird poo on the window sill too!)
I decided to see if I could find out why he was displaying this manic behaviour and put the question to the British Ornithological Society on their Facebook page. And this is what I found out. The most likely answer is that robins are fiercely territorial and he probably thinks his reflection is another bird, so he keeps on trying to attack his rival. I haven’t been able to get a good photo of this behaviour myself as I get too much glare from the glass, which is of course dirty too, but I’ll keep on trying.
Or maybe he’s just showing off, as Frances Hodgson Burnett says in one of my favourite books, The Secret Garden, “nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off – and they are nearly always doing it.”
We seem to have a few robins in the garden, so I don’t know how far their territory stretches but there’s obviously enough room for more than one here. This is also nice as we don’t have many other birds around except wood pigeons at this time of year. We also have robins in the house, in the form of Christmas cards. This one is my favourite.
The robin’s association with Christmas dates from the mid 19th century when according to Wikipedia, the fountain of all knowledge, they took on a “starring role” on Christmas cards. This is most likely because postmen in Victorian Britain wore red jackets and were nicknamed “Robins”, thus the robin on the Christmas card is representative of the postman delivering the card. Surely it’s also as simple as the fact that colourful, bright robins feature strongly in winter landscapes and look decorative on a card.
I love seeing the first robin of winter, it always feels christmassy to me, even if it has suicidal tendencies and poos all over my window sill!
What birds do you have in your garden? Have you come across this peculiar behaviour before?