The European robin is one of our most familiar birds, commonly known as the gardener’s friend due to its propensity to accompany gardeners as they dig the ground. Despite its friendly nature it can be aggressive towards other birds and is one of the few species to sing throughout the winter.

Key facts

Scientific name: Erithacus rubecula
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 6,700,000 pairs

Conservation status: Green
Length: Length: 12 – 13 cm
Wingspan: Wingspan: 20 cm
Weight: Weight: 16 – 22 g


Robins have pale brown upperparts, wings and tail. There is a fine buff wing bar which is sometimes indistinct. Their throats and chests are bright orange bordered with grey and their underparts are white with pale reddish-brown flanks.

They have pale brown napes and crowns and a bright orange face. Their bills are black, their eyes are dark brown, and their legs and feet are pinkish-brown. Male and female robins look virtually identical.

Juvenile robins are brown mottled with lighter brown. Their underparts are paler with beige and brown speckles. Their do not have the orange breast which appears after the first moult at approximately two months.


Robins are one of the earliest birds to nest with breeding starting in late March, although during mild winters robins have been known to breed as early as January.

They build their nests from sticks, grass, moss and dead leaves in areas with lots of shelter and easy access. Robins are famous for nesting in all sorts of odd locations including post boxes, flower pots, hanging baskets, old boots and even coat pockets. Male robins help gather materials and females do the majority of the building work.

Robins lay non-glossy pale buff, cream or white eggs with reddish speckles. They lay a clutch of 4-6 eggs which are incubated for 13-14 days. Robins fledge after about 14 days.

Two broods a year are usually produced, although a pair may occasionally produce a third.


Robins have a varied diet and will eat spiders, beetles and other small insects, worms, berries, soft fruits and seeds. Robins will also eat most kitchen scraps such as cakes, biscuits and cheese as well as sunflower hearts and mealworms from bird tables and feeders.


Where to see them

Robins live across the UK and can be seen in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens.


Eddy Scheinpflug/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The robin is one of the few birds which can be heard singing during the winter.

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