Posted on Dec 9, 2023 at 9:25 am by Matthew L
In many bird species, including the robin, it is sometimes difficult to visually distinguish males from females. Even though sexual dimorphism in the European robin is not very noticeable, there are a few differences between the two sexes.
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How to recognize a European robin?
In the European robin (Erithacus rubecula), it is difficult to distinguish males from females as they have similar physical characteristics.
But first, let’s see what this plump bird with a fiery breast looks like.
Belonging to the same family as the nightingale, the European robin is a small singing bird that is widespread in Europe. Along with the swallow, the tit, and the sparrow, it is a garden bird that is easily observed.
Although it is difficult to mistake it for another bird due to its distinctive red throat, here are some of its physical characteristics to help you recognize it.
With a size of approximately 12 to 14 cm and an approximate wingspan of 20 cm, the European robin can fit in the palm of your hand.
Its round and compact silhouette, as well as its short insectivorous beak, give the impression of a plump little bird.
With its round, black eye, the European robin sports an orange-red breast, throat, and forehead. The back and wings are olive brown or grayish brown. The dorsal feathers sometimes have a darker and streaked texture. The tail is short and often upright.
From a behavioral point of view, robins are known to be relatively confident and curious birds. Even though they are cautious, they sometimes approach humans in gardens and are often visible during the day. Hence the name “European robin”.
The European robin is also recognizable by its melodious song, often described as a soft and musical trill. The song is used to mark territory and attract a mate.
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Robins are territorial birds and are known to vigorously defend their territory against other birds of the same species. They don’t really appreciate competition.
The male and the female, what differences?
According to the results of a scientific study, researchers have discovered that in females over 2 years old, the orange area decreases by 7 to 8% compared to males. In males, the gray fringe also widens over time.
The only differences that can be observed are that older males are more orange than females and have a larger gray border.
In juveniles, European robins do not initially have an orange breast. It appears later, after the post-juvenile molt. In muscicapids, juveniles have a brown body speckled with reddish fawn.
Where does the European robin get its name from?
As one can imagine, the European robin partly gets its name from the color of its breast. Although this color leans more towards orange than red. So why “European robin”. Simply because, in the Middle Ages, red was called orange.
However, the actual color is closer to orange than red. The reason is that in the Middle Ages, when its name was given, the color orange was called red… The color orange only appeared in Europe in the 16th century, with the importation of the fruit of the same name by the Portuguese.
It is also worth noting that ornithologists write “European robin” and not “robin”, but both spellings are correct.