Tag Archives: mealworms

Return of the robin

During the winter of 2014-2015 a very bold male robin (Erithacus rubecula) took up residence in our courtyard and the surrounding area. We bought mealworms for him and he started approaching us when we went outside and even, on a few occasions, came into the house. We put up a bead curtain at the door to dissuade him, but he came under it, so we kept the door shut and he came in through the windows instead. One day, Karl looked up to see the robin staring at him from my monitor and for a few weeks, we changed our routine flinging open of the windows every morning, for birds are not generally used to the insides of houses and tend to become confused and panicky.

robin-new-territoryThe usurper surveys his territory

Then another robin appeared – the two of them tolerated each other quite well to start with but, as the breeding season got under way, they became more territorial and started to fight and the intruder won. We rather missed the first robin – he had a curious habit of bending over and looking at his feet every few minutes.

looking-at-feetYep, feet are still there

During the spring the new robin introduced a mate to us and from the number of mealworms they flew off with, we reckoned they had two broods. She was less forthcoming than him, but the two of them would visit often, hopping about nearby and taking mealworms as they were offered. In mid-summer, she disappeared and we assumed she had been predated, by a sparrowhawk or a cat. Then the male  disappeared too and we were robinless for a few weeks, though well attended by a male blackbird (Turdus merula) who took to staring at us through the kitchen window while we cooked dinner.

blackbird-windowWhat?

Imagine the surprise, then, when last week I went to open the garage to find a tool and heard a familiar flutter nearby. A robin landed on a tool handle a couple of feet away and sat calmly looking at me, then he bent over and stared at his feet. The first robin was back. It was as if he’d never been away, for his demeanour had not changed at all. If anything, he seemed more relaxed than before and took to roosting in the open woodshed when anyone was outside – a ping-pong ball sized blob, barely noticeable from a distance. It was lovely to have him back and to wonder once more why he stared so intently at his feet, when other robins don’t appear to – at least, not that we’ve noticed.

robin-aug-1I’ll just sit here, thanks

There are, however, pitfalls to having such a self-assured bird around – one day, I went to get a tool from the garage. I was running slightly late, but was only slightly perturbed when the robin appeared and alighted on his current favourite tool handle. I gave him a few mealworms; he’d usually go off about his business after this, but that day he decided that a nap in the garage would be just the ticket and he could not be encouraged to leave his comfortable roost. I tried glowering at him from all angles, but he just stared at me and stayed put. I looked at him sitting there so impassively and thought, ‘Now what?!‘. The situation felt rather absurd and I was struck at just how determined wild creatures are and that you really cannot persuade them to do anything they don’t want to do, they are very much their own beings. The robin wasn’t confused and didn’t appear to be frightened – he seemed to feel safe and comfortable where he was and didn’t want to move, so in the end I decided I’d have to let him get on with it; the only option was to leave the garage open and be grateful for over-looking neighbours in case of human intruders. He’s still very welcome, but maybe we should move some of the tools out of view.

 

The robins have changed territory – and the blackbirds have discovered mealworms

It’s all go for nesting birds just now and I’ve noticed that the tension of mating season has resulted in new robin territory borders. Where we previously had two male robins coming to us for mealworms and not fighting about it, we now have only one. As April drew to a close, the garden robin and courtyard robin became increasingly intolerant of one another and began posturing and then fighting.

robin-new-territoryThe garden robin surveys his new territory

Now the courtyard robin has left the territory, which has been taken over by the garden robin. It’s a shame because the courtyard robin was the more interesting bird – to start with, he was the bolder of the two and the one who kept looking at his feet. I hope the courtyard robin found somewhere else suitable to move to.

Almost as soon as the garden robin established his new territory, I noticed that he had a mate and was engaging in courtship feeding. He’d come for mealworms, eat a few and then fly away with one before repeating the routine.

robin-maleOn the doorstep, gathering mealworms

The female asks for food by emitting high-pitched cheeps, lowering her body and excitedly flapping her wings until the male feeds her. Having bonded, this behaviour will continue for several weeks as the male provides much of the female’s food while she is incubating eggs in the nest.

robin-femaleThe female being alluring

Once the eggs have hatched, both birds will be involved in finding food for the young robins still in the nest. I’m wondering how long it will be before we have a flock of robins approach us whenever we go outside, as the parent birds are sure to introduce their offspring. Still, it won’t last long for they will disperse at the end of summer and we’ll be back to just one robin following us about.

courtship-feedingOn the doorstep

The mealworms are still attracting the pair of blackbirds and both male and female are coming for worms. The nest is in the thick ivy that grows over the wall and I’m glad that the neighbours haven’t cut it back as this is the second year that blackbirds have nested in the same spot. Their eggs started hatching around May 7, shown by her gathering as many mealworms as she could cram into her beak and taking them into the ivy.

blackbird-eggBlackbird egg shell

 It is said that nest-failure is very high amongst blackbirds but hopefully this nesting attempt will be successful and we’ll see the young birds in a couple of weeks. I think we need to order more mealworms.

A very bold robin is keeping us company

 

The cold weather is making the garden robin (Erithacus rubecula ) bolder than ever and it seems that every time one of us steps outside the robin will be there within moments. We’d wondered how it is that the robin spots us so quickly and we think it might be alerted by the rough sound of the garage door opening.  It doesn’t mind its picture being taken, so we’ve managed to get a few.

20-01-2015-robin-1

It started in autumn when Karl was working in the garage with the door open and the robin would come in and perch nearby. Being kind, he would go and get some seeds for it, or some other tasty morsels like bits of cake or hard fat mixed with old bread and jam. These are all received with relish and each time it seems that this little bird is less nervous than before.

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