Click on the first image below to see a timeline of the Robin’s story in the picture viewer.
The Robin was a visitor to our garden who had a liking for the suet sticks I was putting out in a bird feeder. He liked them so much that he very readily took them from our hands and became very tame. I think his liking for suet became an addiction to the extent that eventually he would pester us for food, waiting on the door handle of our back door for us to arrive home and then hopping into the kitchen when we opened the door. He wasn’t fussy about who fed him; we had people working on our kitchen or painting the outside of the house who were strangers to him but who were equally pestered and fascinated by his behaviour. He would also spit out (or the ornithological equivalent of spitting, if there is one) insects in favour of his preferred suet habit.
Whilst he was very tame to us and other humans he obviously felt the need to protect his investment in establishing the relationship and he was very aggressive to other birds, particularly other Robins. When we first “made contact” he had two healthy legs but one day we noticed that he would stand on one leg with the other leg tucked up amongst his feathers. In the later photos of him, you can see a prominent bulge on his right leg and an obvious break when seen from behind. Maybe the suet was an easy option when he could only hop around on one leg when searching for insects in the garden.
Our relationship with the Robin lasted just over 3 years. He then just disappeared and I guess he came to the end of his life which was reasonably long for a Robin. Apparently 25% of Robins don’t make it through their first year, although some can live into their teens. →
Our Robin reared at least one successful fledgeling and inevitably that was fed on a diet consisting largely of suet as far as we could tell.
In the years since 2009, we have always had a Robin covering our garden in its territory but have not been able to repeat the relationship we had with the one-legged one. In fact, subsequent generations have shown no interest in suet sticks whatsoever. I wonder if the legend of Grandfather / Great Uncle One Leg and his exploits put them off…
Fast forward to 2020 and we have a healthy population of Robins in the area of the garden. Last summer our resident pair had, we think, three successful broods of at least one young each. Over the winter there were three adult Robins bumping along nicely together sharing the available food supply. Now in early May, we have a pair of Robins with a brood of three fledgelings slowly eating us out of bird food. Dried mealworms appear to be the food of choice these days.