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The most familiar and most loved among garden birds, the European robin (Erithacus rubecula), also referred to as the robin or robin redbreast in Ireland and Britain, is a small insectivorous passerine bird that can be encountered in all sorts of habitats. Faithful to both its summer and winter turfs, the robin’s territorial instincts are the most notable aspect of the bird’s behavior.
See the fact file below for more information on the robin or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Robin worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
NAME, TAXONOMY, AND SYSTEMATICS
- In 1758, Swedish botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus described the European robin in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Motacilla rubecula. Its specific epithet, rubecula, originated from the Latin ruber meaning red. The genus Erithacus was proposed by French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1800, giving the robin its current binomial name, Erithacus rubecula.
- The prominent orange breast of adults added to the European robin’s original name of “redbreast”, orange as a color name being unidentified in English until the 16th century, by which the fruit had been initially made known.
- The larger American robin (T. migratorious) is named for its resemblance to the European robin; however, the two birds are not closely linked. The similarity can be seen in the orange chest patch of both species.
- Adults reach 5.0 to 5.5 inches long, with a wingspan of eight to nine inches, and weigh 0.56 to 0.81 ounce. Both sexes display similar plumage; an orange breast and face with a bluish grey line that extends on the sides of the neck and chest.
- Their upper parts are brownish, or olive-tinged in robins found in Britain. Their bellies appear whitish, while their legs and feet are brown.
- The bill and eyes are black.
- Juveniles are covered with brown and white spots, with patches of orange slowly appearing.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
- The robin wanders in east Eurasia to western Siberia, south to Algeria and across the Atlantic islands, as far west as the Central Group of the Azores and Madeira. It is a transient bird in Iceland and also reaches Iran in the southeast.
- Irish and British robins are entirely resident; however, a small minority, typical females, migrate to southern Europe during winter, a few as distant as Spain.
- Scandinavian and Russian robins fly to Britain and western Europe to dodge the harsher winters. These birds can be identified by the greyer tone of the upper parts of their buddies and less vibrant orange breast.
- The European robin favors spruce woods in northern Europe, clashing with its preference for parks and gardens in Ireland and Great Britain.
BEHAVIOR AND ECOLOGY
- Robins are diurnal; however, they have been observed to be actively foraging insects on moonlit nights or close to artificial light at night. Popular to British and Irish gardeners, robins are unafraid of people and are attracted to human activities that involve digging of soil so they can also look out for earthworms and other food fresh from the ground.
- In continental Europe, robins were hunted and poached, together with other small birds.
- Robins also go near large wild animals, such as wild boars which disturb the ground, to search for any food that might be brought to the surface.
- During autumn and winter, robins consume terrestrial invertebrates, such as spiders, worms and insects, with berries and fruits. They will also feed on seed mixtures and suet placed on bird tables.
- Males are distinct for their highly hostile territorial demeanor. They will furiously attack other males and competitors that roam in their territories and have been documented attacking other small birds without clear provocation.
- There are also cases of robins attacking their own reflection. Territorial disputes sometimes cause these birds’ fatalities, resulting up to 10% of adult robin deaths in some regions.
- Due to their high mortality in their first year of life, robins live an average lifespan of 1.1 years; however, they are able to live longer once they have passed their first year.
- Robins may prefer a number of breeding grounds; they may even consider a depression or even a hole, as long as that spot provides some shelter.
- They will also build their nest in man made nest boxes, choosing a design with an open front situated in a sheltered position up to two meters from the ground.
- Two or three clutches of five or six eggs are laid throughout the breeding season, which starts in March in Britain and Ireland. The eggs are a cream, buff, or white-blotched with reddish-brown color.
- Juveniles leaving their nests are mottled brown in color all over. After two to three months in the open area, juveniles grow some orange feathers under their chin which eventually extends to complete the adult appearance.
- Robins produce a fluting, warbling song during breeding season. Both sexes sing during the winter, when they have different territories, the song then sounds duller than the summer version.
- Female robins move a short distance from the summer nesting territory to a close area that is more appropriate for winter feeding. Male robins keep the same territory throughout the year.
- During breeding season, males usually start their morning song an hour before sunrise, and usually end their daily singing 30 minutes after sunset.
- Nocturnal singing can happen, especially in urban areas that are artificially lit at night.
- A number of calls is also produced at any time of the year, including a ticking note implying anxiety or mild alarm.
- Robins have also been correlated to Christmas, playing a role on many Christmas cards and postage stamps since the mid-19th century.
- An old British folktale seeks to narrate how robins got their distinctive breast. It was said that when Jesus was dying on the cross, a brown robin flew to His side and sang into His ear in order to soothe Him in His pain. The blood from His wounds stained the bird’s breast, and thereafter all robins had the mark of Christ’s blood upon them.
- Another legend suggests that its breast was scorched fetching water for souls in purgatory.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the robin across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Robin worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the European robin (Erithacus rubecula), also referred to as the robin or robin redbreast in Ireland and Britain, which is a small insectivorous passerine bird that can be encountered in all sorts of habitats. Faithful to both its summer and winter turfs, the robin’s territorial instincts are the most notable aspect of the bird’s behavior.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Robin Facts
- Hey Robin!
- Robin’s Milestones
- Fact or Not
- Are They Related?
- Other Songbirds
- Complete the Puzzle
- Ask Yourself
- A Gardener’s Friend
- That Little Robin
- Cultural Depictions
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Link will appear as Robin Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 14, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.