Warren’s World of Wildlife – Robins Ponds and Berries

When it’s gets to this time of year, obviously there’s not as much wildlife about but the bare branches in trees makes what’s still here much easier to spot. And there’s only one bird to start with at Christmas time, no, not the turkey, the good old Robin Red Breast aka European robin or if you want, it’s posh name ‘Erithacus Rubecula.’

Last year the Robin was voted ‘Britain’s National Bird,’ the association with Christmas comes from the fact they tend to appear and mark out their territories in December as they look forward to their breeding season which a few years ago used to be March but with the milder winters is now more January/ February. I’m not convinced about the folklore which says a Robin visited Christ on the cross and sang to help ease his pain and were touched by his blood, equally I’m not too sure that its breast was scorched fetching water for souls in Purgatory, or that they were the Norse Gods Thor bird of choice but the fact is Robins actually seem to like humans and it’s not unknown to have them feeding from your hand.

warrens-robin1However, much as we all love the Robin and the flash of colour and song it adds in winter, not a lot of people know it’s actually a very territorial bird. They’re well known for singing and their tunes are a way of marking out their territory. They don’t take kindly to outsiders, in fact they’re the football hooligans of the bird world and they will fight to the death to defend what’s theirs. But don’t let that put you off, they’re a great bird to have nesting in your garden and all you need is an open fronted nesting box with a bit of wire mesh to discourage cats from climbing in. A Robin is very much a gardeners friend, he’ll help keep the bugs and caterpillars at bay, so if you look after him, he’ll look after you.

warren-and-son-aug16iss59Anyway enough of Stone Island clad birds and a quick look at the best way to encourage and help what wildlife remains  this time of year. I’ve found a pond creates its own ecosystem, whether it’s the frogs it attracts snaffling up slugs or the insects they attract in the early evening which in turn can attract bats which feed on them as it gets dark. But obviously that takes a bit of planning, so as well as leaving out the high protein food I spoke about in the last issue; peanuts, fat balls, Nyger Seed shrubs or a hedgerow with berries are a good food source, if you haven’t got any, even a couple of pot plants can help the birds out at this difficult time of year. If you have a feeder, make sure it’s regularly topped up, put out some fresh water as often as you can, if it’s freezing cold put something like a small lightweight ball in the bowl and even a slight breeze will move it about and stop the water freezing over.


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