Why are robins so tame?

BBC Wildlife writer Mike Toms answers your wild question.


Gardeners and birdwatchers are used to seeing relatively tame robins in the UK © Steve Black


British robins readily associate with gardeners, but elsewhere in Europe they are shy and retiring birds of thick woodland cover.

It may just be because continental robins, the migratory northern populations of which winter around the Mediterranean, have long been exposed to hunting in the southern part of their range, leaving the species particularly skulking in its habits, while in Britain we do not share the tradition of trapping and shooting small birds.

Why other British birds are less confiding than the robin may be linked to feeding behaviour. Robins take most of their food from the ground, including invertebrates disturbed by larger animals. They may view us in a similar way, as they scavenge worms unearthed by the gardener’s spade. This behaviour persists because they have nothing to fear. 


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