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Robin

Latin name 'Erithacus rubecula'

Robin mounted specimen displayed on a small branch

Robins are found throughout western Europe as well as Siberia and North West Africa, mainly in woodland but also parks and gardens. They nest from March to July, usually in tree holes or other cavities, laying five to seven eggs, usually two but occasionally three broods. They feed mainly on insects, worms, berries and fruit, and regularly visit garden bird tables to feed.

Christmas links

The robin is a familiar character on Christmas cards, despite not being mentioned in the Bible and not even occurring in the Holy Land. It would appear that the relationship between man and bird, particularly in winter, is often seen as sufficient reason to depict the robin.

However the real reason dates back to the mid 19th century. At the time the standard uniform for the postman was a bright red coat, which was readily associated with the robin’s red breast. The first cards produced at the time had designs very similar to those used now, many of which depict the robin at the door often with envelopes in its beak. A card depicting robins delivering the post from National Museums Liverpool’s decorative art collection will be available soon to send as a Christmas e-card.

Another reason may be the legend that the bird’s red breast was caused by the bird piercing itself with a thorn from Christ’s crown when on the cross. This is a Breton legend and does not have a long history in Britain.

This robin mounted specimen, which is not currently on display, is from World Museum's zoology collections|.

Accession number 1994.71.1589