The robin is one of the most popular birds people like to see in their gardens or out in the wild. Their likeness is portrayed across Christmas cards, gifts, tree decorations and everything in between. They are a burst of brightness on a grey winters day, but can be seen year around. Robins are one of the UK’s most common birds, with a population of 6-7 million recorded. The distinctive red breast makes identifying a robin very easy, as is nothing else like them in the UK. Robins also have a reputation for being a gardeners friend. This is because they often fearlessly hop or fly quite close to a gardener, hoping to grab a worm or grub from the ground. These little characters are notoriously territorial and will chase off other robins from their ‘patch’.
So, what is the best way to attract robins into your garden? Here is what you should feed and hang to tempt these lovely birds to an outside space.
Robins are very partial to mealworms, and if you’re able to leave them out regularly you will no doubt have a new best feathered friend. Mealworms are an excellent source of protein and energy, and robins will really appreciate having these available during the colder months. Alternatives to mealworms, such as calciworms, will also go down well with robins. Robins will often be found searching garden beds and plants for grubs and insects, which become less available in harsh wintery weather, so it is important to supplement with tubs of mealworms if you can.
When left to their own devices, Robins have been known to make nest boxes in the strangest of places. This includes watercans, broken teapots, old boots and pockets in jackets left in sheds. However, if you wish to put up a nest box, robins prefer that they are open fronted. Robins will not use a nest box with a round hole. When hanging a nest box for a robin, it’s important to consider the site. They value protection and natural cover, such as a thorny hedge, Ivy or a big shrub, in which they can shelter. Having a nest box behind such protection may help attract it’s first resident. Putting it north facing will means that it avoids the strongest sunshine and wet winds. Robins will usually have two broods during breeding season, so ensure to put out a robins favourite food around this time and keep an eye out for robin fledglings. This i
Keep nest boxes clean in late summer, ensuring they are no longer being used before giving them a scrub.
Robins love mealworms. But, they also make up a lot of their diet with insects and invertebrates. In the winter, they will also eat seeds and fruit. A special robin mix will provide these, as well as sunflower hearts and crushed peanuts which are also enjoyed by robins. When cold, suet pellets with insects will be a popular hit with robins, and you’ll often see them hopping back for a 3rd or 4th helping!
Robins are natural ground feeders, so make sure you put the food in the right place to ensure robins can feed comfortably. Ground feeding trays are ideal for this, simply sprinkle a mixture of seed, insects and mealworms and wait for the robins to arrive!
Bird tables also give robins an easy place to eat from. Bird tables with roofs have the added advantage of protection and keeping any food dry. Wet food is susceptible to mould and bacteria, which could then lead to infection in your bird visitors, so if there is wet food on your bird tables it’s important to clean it off before it has a chance to become something more sinister. Having a roof also prevents larger birds like pigeons eating everything before the little robin can have a turn.
Robins may use hanging feeders, although it is very uncommon. We’ve seen them try, and if they do manage to land, they don’t stay for long.
Putting out the right food on the right feeder is a great way to help bring robins into your garden or outdoor space. However, if you’re able to leave an area ‘wild’ it will really benefit your bird life. Creating an environment or space where insects and invertebrates will thrive means there is a good food source for larger predators, such as birds. Robins, whose diet consists mainly of insect life will thank you for providing a self-sustaining patch of free food.
Insect ‘hotels’ or simple piles of sticks will have the same effect, and encourage insect life to take hold. Planting trees and compost heaps will also give a home to minibeasts, the natural prey of robins and a whole host of other wildlife.
Before you know it, you might have a little friend for company when doing the weeding!
Do you have any tips about how to attract Robins? Do let us know in the comments.