It appears it’s the Victorians we have to thank for robins on Christmas cards after all they 'invented' the Christmas card! The postmen who delivered these Christmas Cards were nicknamed ‘Robins’ because of the red tunics they wore at the time and robins, sometimes on red pillar boxes, became popular cards, as they still are today!
Robins are happy little chaps who like nothing more than keeping the gardener company hoping tasty morsels will be turned up; not at all shy they will sometimes become tame enough to take food from the hand - lots of patience ....and a good supply of mealworms may be needed! They have a sweet tooth and love fruitcake as an occasional treat after the normal diet of insects and worms. (Who wouldn't?)
They don't mate for life and usually start to look for a mate late winter into early spring. They are extremely territorial and will defend their spot, sometimes, to the bitter end.
Known to nest in unusual places one year we had a nest in the greenhouse, with the birds happily coming and going through the open window and us being there not bothering them at all.
They normally lay between 4 to 6 eggs twice, sometimes three times, in the year depending on the weather and food supply. Sadly many young birds are lost in the first year falling prey to the attentions of predatory cats and big birds like magpies. These will take eggs or young birds from the nest. It’s often the male who looks after the fledglings while the female makes ready the nest for the next brood; he does nothing towards the nest building but will bring her food as she broods the eggs.
Ours are European Robins, the British ones can be found the length and breadth of the country and most of our islands too. They don't stray far from where they hatched whilst bad weather in Scandinavia can force some of their robins onto our shores; these are a paler, shyer version of our cheeky pals.
Last year there was poll of over 200,000 people to find Britain’s National Bird. The robin won hands down, gaining 34% of the vote with the barn owl second on 12% and the blackbird 11%.
So robins have a special place in our gardens......and in our hearts.