You must’ve seen me on those iconic Christmas card pictures – I’m that sweet looking little bird with the bright red vest. They often picture me against some freshly drifted snow; or maybe I’ll be cutely perched on the handle of a garden shovel – yes I make such charming scene. “Ah how sweet!” you think, as I flirt my colourful feathers at you.
Yep, I’m Mr Popular, the Numero Uno of the bird fancying community – gardeners love me, bird watchers love me, children love me – I mean I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I’ve been voted as the favourite national bird! And I’m not just some passing new phase either! Oh no; my popularity has been going on for centuries – back down the ages, folks have looked on me as a bringer of good luck and happy fortune and they even reckon I can warn of stormy weather (well someone has to show the weather service how it’s done!!)
All in all, I’m delightful, friendly, even cuddly – right? Or am I??! Because, whilst you gullible lot might see me that way, I’m really just putting on a cutesy little act for you, to cover up the darkness that lies beneath….
Let me tell you, I like my own patch – my personal home space, and I intend to keep it that way! If another robin thinks he can come bob, bob, bobbing along, hoping to grab a bit of turf for himself, then he can think again! If I spot so much as one flash of a red breast, then it’s just like a red rag to a bull! I’ll give him fair warning, with some zealous singing, and by waving my wings and beak at him menacingly; but if he’s too dumb to take the hint, then it’s fight, fight, fight, with lots of wing flapping, clawing and pecking – no holding back! Hopefully this is enough to make him head off to pastures new; but if not, then sorry folks, it could get real nasty…
It’s not just other robins that will feel the wrath of my wings either, any birds that come calling uninvited, or are found loitering on my patch, will get the same treatment – I know how to get my message out there – stay off my land!
I have to confess I am prone to feeling rather grumpy a lot of the time and if I’m in a crochety mood, then I’m apt to lash out at anything that comes too close, even if they don’t appear to be looking for trouble. I will make sure they know what kind of bird I am and they’re not likely to come near me again!
I warn you now, just don’t wave anything red at me – I might mistake it for another robin and I’m apt to leap into a furious frenzy – so maybe keep those Christmas jumpers under wraps when I’m about. Even my chicks know better than to wear red around me; they wisely keep their mottled brown feathers until they’re old enough to fly the nest, just to make sure they keep on my good side.
I wouldn’t want you to think I’m all bad though – I’m doing my bit to be green – I fancy myself as a bit of an up-cycler and like to find some weird and wonderful locations to build my nest – I’ve tried rusty lamps, disused cars, old tyres, letter boxes, disgarded boots and once I even found an ancient kettle someone had thrown out – it was perfect! And if there are humans around, well they don’t bother me any..
Now, you ladies might just be thinking…mmm typical man… well, I hate to tell you this girls, but my partner and her girlfriends are just as feisty as me. They have the same outfits too, so good luck in telling us apart (although, of course, we robins know who’s who and that’s all that matters!) In fact I’ll let you into a little secret….we all have a slightly different red pattern on our chests – that’s how we can identify one another.
So next time you see one of us hopping along looking demure… just remember… appearances can be deceptive!