Winter song

Robins, both male and female, sing almost the whole year round with just a pause after the breeding season, when they go into hiding for the moult.

Their autumn and spring songs are noticeably different. The autumn song starts when the moult is finished in the late summer. It is subdued and, to the human ear, melancholy, the sound of summer’s end and the encroaching winter. The spring song is louder and more cheerful.

Robin’s winter song from xeno-canto by Bernard BOUSQUET

Unlike many species of small birds, robins don’t flock or share territories in the winter. They claim a territory with sufficient food sources to see them through the harsh weather, they sing their winter song to declare their sole ownership of it and they fight just as fiercely to defend it as they would to defend a nesting site during the breeding season.

Because they are well adapted to living in poor light, Robins are often active when few other birds are about. In the winter, they will sing before the sun has risen and in the half light of late afternoon, a reminder in a minor key that the year will turn.

Header image by DKG

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