European Robin

European Robin

Within the family of birds, there are some that stand out for their daring and curious character, in addition to having a beautiful song when they are close to people. And these are, without a doubt, the European Robin.

What’s an european robin?

It is known by the scientific name of erithacus rubecula, and is part of the family of miscicapidae. It is widely distributed throughout Europe, especially in the southern and western parts of the continent, inhabiting this area all year round until it migrates to the north and northeast of Africa in the winter months.

erithacus rubecula

In the mid-19th century, attempts were made to introduce this species into Australia and other areas, releasing them into the wild, but no luck as they were unable to acclimatize to the new environment.

So what’s it like?

When he is an adult, it is about 13 cm long and weighs about 22 grams. The male and female are similar, so the only way to differentiate the sex of both specimens would be through a DNA test.

Their feathers are orange on the face and chest, with a bluish-gray border on the sides of the neck and chest. The upper parts are brown, while the belly is whitish. His legs and feet are brown. The beak and eyes are black. Younger specimens are not orange in colour and chewing them is a dark brown colour with orange patches gradually appearing on the chest and face.

european finche

It is distinguished by nine subspecies:

  • Erithacus rubecula balcanicus: What resides in the Balkan peninsula and western Turkey.
  • Erithacus rubecula hyrcanus: Which lives in the southern Caucasus and northern Iran.
  • Erithacus rubecula melophilus: Found in the British Isles and Scandinavia.
  • Erithacus rubecula rubecula: The nominal species, which is found in western Europe, northwestern Morocco, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, on the islands of El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera.
  • Erithacus rubecula superbus: Residing on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
  • Erithacus rubecula marionaie: The islands of Gran Canaria are located.
  • Erithacus rubecula tataricus: Resides in western Siberia.
  • Erithacus rubecula valens: This subspecies can be found on the Crimean Peninsula.
  • Erithacus rubecula witherbyi: Lives in southern Spain, northeast of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Corsica and Sardinia.

The only difference between the subspecies and the nominal is the amount of orange in their body. The most famous, and the most distinct, are the subspecies that live in the Canary Islands, since they lack completely the color orange, have a white eye ring and their belly is completely white.

More interesting facts about this bird?

It is a diurnal species, but it is not uncommon to see it hunting insects on moonlit nights or in areas of artificial light. Their diet is composed of terrestrial invertebrates, such as spiders, worms and small insects. During the autumn and winter months, it adds other invertebrates to its diet, in addition to small berries and fruits. It can also feed on seeds that have been placed in bird feeders.

Unlike other bird species, it is quite accustomed to humans, and it is not uncommon for it to come close when someone is stirring up the soil, because it can trap worms and other prey that may appear. In countries such as England, this bird is considered a “friend of the gardener” and is not disturbed when he is working the land. It is not uncommon for them to come to eat from the hand of some people either, especially the species that live in parks and gardens.

Males are pretty territorial. Although they are generally quite calm and friendly animals, they become very aggressive when another tries to gain access to their territory. Many times, the fights between males to control a territory end up resulting in the death of some of them. 10% of adult robin deaths are due to fighting over territory.

The European robin has a wide variety of nesting sites, as long as it has a hole or depression in which to build its nest. They build their nests with moss, leaves and grass, and cover it with fine grass, hair and feathers. During the breeding season, during March/April until August or September, they lay two to three clutches of five or six eggs. These eggs have a cream colour with reddish brown spots.

The female is the incubator. While the female incubates the second clutch, the male is in charge of feeding the young of the first clutch. The incubation period lasts two weeks, the same as the first time the chicks leave the nest.

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