Where do robins live? And do they migrate?

Robin feeding young at nest
Round robin redbreast is a winter favourite, find out where they nest. (Photo: Tony Mills/Alamy Stock Photo)

You’ll probably be seeing lots of robins at this time of year, and not just on Christmas cards. In winter, they spend more time out and about searching for food, and there’s less greenery for them to hide in.

Robins aren’t that scared of people and, if you’re digging in the garden, you’ll often see a cheerful little redbreast hanging around waiting for you to unearth a juicy worm. Sometimes a robin will even feed from your hand – that’s a magical experience!

Where do robins live?

Robins can start to build their nests as early as January, especially if the winter has been mild. They like to build near the ground, choosing places such as holes in tree trunks, climbing plants, hedges and log piles. They’ve been known to nest in some pretty weird places too, such as hanging baskets, car engines, pockets of clothes hung out to dry, and boots!

Do robins migrate?

Most of our robins stay in the UK all year round but some decide the winter’s a bit chilly so they fly south to spend it in warmer European countries. They’re replaced by others who come here to escape the freezing weather in their more northerly homes. That robin you see in your garden may have come from Scandinavia or Russia.

Singing robin perched on a branch.
Listen out for robins singing on Christmas Day. (Photo: D Folker/WTML)

How long do robins live?

Small birds don’t usually live long and robins are lucky if they reach the age of two. They also have plenty of natural predators from birds of prey to domestic cats!

Why is the robin a symbol of Christmas?

In Victorian times, postmen wore red jackets and were nicknamed ‘robins’. Of course, around this time of year they deliver lots of cards and presents. Someone thought it would be fun to have cards showing real robins delivering the Christmas mail and the idea of robins on greetings cards caught on.

Legend also has it that a robin stood between the Baby Jesus and the fire as he was getting too hot. The robin’s breast turned red with the heat and that’s why all robins now have a patch of colour on their chest. The story could be another reason why robins have become part of Christmas celebrations.

obin looking into the camera.
Put out meals for robins in the winter months when food is harder to find. (Photo: WTML)

Look after robins this Christmas

In winter, robins need plenty of food to keep their energy levels up. Our combined nest box and feeder is the perfect way to attract them to your garden.

They’re especially partial to dried mealworms – you can buy these in supermarkets and garden centres. They’ll also appreciate fruit, seeds, crushed peanuts and raisins.

Do you have a robin that’s a regular visitor? Have you managed to get close, or even get it to feed from your hand? Tell us about it and post your pictures using #NatureDetectives.

Have you seen a robin in your garden?

comments powered by Disqus