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Robins (Erithacus Rubecula)
Britain's most friendly garden visitor, they may be small but has the sprite of a lion, The robin redbreast, the legend of Christmas the world over.
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The robin enjoys popularity with man unrivalled by any other species. A familiar visitor at the bird table in winter and constant gardening companion, even nesting in the toolshed, they will often become friendly and given time will readily feed on your hands. I was lucky enough to have one of these fun little critters take up home in my garden and got the chance to study them for nearly four years with some interesting outcomes.
Most of my photos are the same bird, Rockin Robin; he was one crazy bird. It took me just two weeks to gain his trust in where he was feeding on my hands. This bird was fun and cheeky and loved the camera. If I were washing my car he would be on the wing mirror; if I walked to the postbox he would be there, and he would help himself to food that was stored in my homes storeroom if the door was open.
Watching Rockin throughout the years was very interesting, For sure the boss over the garden until the breeding season. When a female showed interest, his work to impress her began. He would have to explain his strength; bulling all birds within the garden if she called he would have to bring her food. The female would sit high up in a tree or on the clothesline; overlooking the garden and watch him closely, if she sounded the call he would be required to gift her food. This would be day in day out every day until he's won her over.
The bird's popularity in Britain has built up over the years, and the legends about the bad luck incurred by anyone harming a robin go back to the 16th century. A Christain link has been attached to the legend because Christ's crown of thorns supposedly stained the robin's red breast. This is why the robin features prominently on the earliest Christmas cards.
When the female starts to build the nest, the female also starts to revieave food from the male. This so-called courtship-feeding was once thought to be a ritual designed to reinforce the pair-bond, and some would state its a food source for the female. But after my studies, it is the female testing the male to see if he is strong enough to bond with.
Like all birds, robins are attentive parents and. One thing I had noticed, after a week also the chick would start to be chased by the male then suddenly feed the chick but soon after the chick if its male would try and bully the male, it seemed that the female had long gone leaving just the male to bring up the young bird. This may have been due to the female dying or that she leaves before the young are fully fledged. When the young birds start to grow that red breast i did note that the adult male bird would try and drive out the young and espassly if the young was a male.
The robins will have two broods a year and will often stay in the same place, but I didn't observe this with Rokin; giving the harsh summer in Bedfordshire in 2015 and 2015 I wonder if those conditions are why the birds only managed one brood in the two years.
Photographing these crazy creatures is fun and rewarding but bare in mind they are posers, they will often stand and watch you, I like to work closely, at around 4-6 feet from my bird hide. When this close I can see the antics, and I must admit when you get to know these birds they can do some crazy and funny things, as you can see in my work. If you know what you are doing you can get great shots even with a basic camera, but I recommend a lens from 200mm onwards, and it is down to your technic and knowing the bird.
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