Star of the Season - Robin Redbreast
I found this article in an old copy of the Country Living magazine which I thought I would share with you, about robins, as they are very much a part of the Christmas season.
Their willingness to nest almost anywhere, for instance, famously in an unmade bed and a gardener's jacket pocket (built between breakfast and lunch). Their enjoyment of human company (there are many stories of robins that live in churches, and join in the singing). Their loyalty, their lack of pretence, their bad-weather sturdiness. There is a hint of moral approval in our love of the birds, even a sense that we glimpse our own imagined national characteristics in their behaviour: the robin - named probably after the friendly sprite Robin Goodfellow - as an avian John Bull, a flighted oak tree.
The robin's eyes have a lot to do with it, those pert piercing beads, 'like black dewdrops' as Frances Hodgson Burnett describes them in The Secret Garden. They are side-mounted like most birds, but in that classic robinesque cock of the head they seem to look directly as us. We are caught in the frankness of that gaze, confronted by an unafraid, unthreatening being as we rarely are by any other creature. No wonder we melt, and feel for a moment that we both live in the same one world."
Adapted from Redbreast: The robin in life and literature by Andrew Lack. This book is an updated and extended version of Robin Redbreast, originally published in 1950 by Andrew's father, eminent ornithologist David Lack. amazon
On Christmas day I sit and think
Thoughts white as snow and black as ink
My nearest kinsman, turned a knave,
Robbed me of all that I could save.
When he was gone, and I was poor,
His sister yelped me from her door.
The Robin sings his Christmas song.
And no bird has a sweeter tongue.
God bless them all - my wife so true,
And pretty Robin Redbreast too.
God bless my kinsman far away,
And give his sister joy this day.
W.H.Davies from A Poets Calender (1927)
All the above taken from a Country Living article December 2010