Rural Reading: Sweet singing Robin is a bullyBy Adrian Lawson
December 10, 2010
A simple and very rewarding thing that we can do, if we have a little bit of space, is to put some food out for the birds.
It certainly helps the birds find food very easily, but it also allows you to watch the birds going about their business in a way that you would only otherwise see if you were in a hide on a nature reserve.
My garden is my own little nature reserve and I have quite a few feeders with a range of food – and obviously quite a few birds.
At the moment I have been watching a robin and I have come to the conclusion he is the least pleasant bird in the garden. We jokingly suggest shooting him.
He is a bully of the worst kind, taking over the bird tables and driving away competition.
This is normal for a robin and the sweet song is actually a way of claiming his territory. He vigorously drives away other robins. This is the way of the robin – it always has been and I can accept it.
The problem is that he has taken to driving away other birds. He will have a go at a chaffinch, but not always, and he also drives away the dunnocks. The dunnock manages to thrive nevertheless.
The real problem I have is that he has taken to driving away the scarcer, more unusual birds I really like to see in my garden, the reed bunting, the blackcap and the bullfinch.
In recent years I have had very large numbers of reed buntings but this year the resident robin has taken to bullying them too, and with a passion that is extraordinary.
The buntings don’t get a moment’s peace. Last year I had thirty or so buntings feeding on the lawn, but this year only two of these shy and scarce birds have tried to feed in my garden so far.
I know what I don’t want on my Christmas cards this year!