🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Robin is the one

THE ROBIN is the one
That interrupts the morn
With hurried, few, express reports
When March is scarcely on.
The robin is the one
That overflows the noon
With her cherubic quantity,
An April but begun.

The robin is the one
That speechless from her nest
Submits that home and certainty
And sanctity are best.

I am rather sad writing this post - just as my "OC Robin" (obsessive compulsive!) got so very tame that I could actually capture pictures of him in my house, he was attacked in my lounge a couple of weeks ago by the Karoo Thrush, who also took to coming into the house, and Robbie hasn't set foot inside the house since. Luckily he is unscathed by this territorial dispute and even though the Robin is very cheeky and normally does not back off, the much larger Thrush got the upper-hand this time.

Karoo Thrush (Turdus smithi) - mean-looking, right?

Here are some pics of Robbie in my house :

Robbie making himself at home on one of the chairs in the kitchen. the up-lifted tail is a sign that he is aware of me and not at all pleased!

The Cape Robin Chat (Cossypha caffra) is renowned for its strange behaviour. There are many reports of Robins finding strange nesting places inside homes - a potted plant in a lounge, on top of window sills in the house, even a woman's handbag in her closet! It has even been recorded to have placed the nest in a dried flower arrangement in the lounge of the Grahamstown Golf Club! And they are not adverse to following one around the garden and Robbie seems to know some snacks are going to appear - as soon as he sees me with my spade or garden trowel, he gets close, nabbing cutworms and other insects I up-earth. He also loves it when I water the garden with the hose pipe, trudging around in the water like a seasoned water fowl, snapping up floating insects disturbed by the water.

Robbie following me around the garden

The Robin mainly eats insects and other invertebrates, supplemented with fruit and seeds plucked from bushes, trees or the ground. It does a lot of its foraging in leaf litter, flicking through plant debris in search of food and occasionally aerially hawking an insect; it may also glean invertebrates from leaves, branches and rocks. It readily visits bird feeders and will eat most snacks offered to it. My Robbie is extremely fond of minced meat, which he used to come and snack on in my kitchen (before the Thrush incident!). Now I put it on one of the nails on the bird feeder above, but he's very wary to approach it, as the Thrush is also a mince lover! Oh my, I have a real territorial dispute problem in my garden now!

The Cape Robin Chat is monogamous and a highly territorial solitary nester, as the male aggressively defends his territory against other males as well as other species, such as white-eyes, sunbirds and doves. The nest is usually built solely by the female in about 1-14 days, gathering a clump of material together before shuffling its body into it to form a cup. It is usually made out of bark fragments, twigs, dry grass, fern fronds, rootlets, dead leaves, moss and seed pods and lined with finer fibres, such as hair, rootlets and plant inflorescences. It is most commonly placed in a hollow in an earthen bank, cavity in a tree trunk, densely foliaged shrub, dry flood debris along a stream bank, or in pots or boxes overgrown with vegetation.

Egg-laying season is from about June-January, peaking around October-November. She lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14-19 days. The female broods the chicks throughout the night and intermittently through the day, for the first 5-11 days of their lives. They are fed by both parents, eventually leaving the nest at about 14-18 days old, remaining dependent on their parents for about 5-7 weeks more. During this period the adults are particularly viglant about protecting their young, sometimes even attacking snakes such as the Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) and Cape cobra (Naja nivea).


  1. Such a shame you colourful visitor has been bullied. Our robins also find anywhere to nest. A few years ago I saw one which had nested in a cardboard box on top of furniture in a second hand store. I have seen a photo of one which nested in an old kettle.

    1. Aren’t they just too weird and wonderful John?! I miss my robin terribly now, seeing him walking from room to room or just standing on the kitchen table, waiting for a snack to appear.

  2. Hi guys,
    Was wondering if you could give some advice? I have a beautiful little Cape Robim Chat that has three brand new baby chicks nestled in the ivy next to the garage. Unfortunately, the guys are extending the garage and today was crazy loud. I've gone through to the nest now and mommy Robin isn't back. Is there a possibility that she has abandoned the nest because of the noise? What can I do to help the little guys? I'm going away this weekend, so time is limited.
    Feeling frustrated and terribly worried.

    1. Oh my! That's quite a dilemma you have there Nic! The Robin doesn't easily abandon her babies and normally they are quite used to human activities, that's why they nest so close to us, even in our houses! so she might just have been getting food for the babies. If you stand a watch for a while you might see her returning. There is actually nothing you can do - trying to raise 3 little Robin chicks oneself is a tremendously delicate job and is not often that successful. The only recourse you have is to stop all work on the garage until the babies have fledged (left the nest). I have often had to put off a job or moving something that I needed (like a roll of chicken wire - the Robin was nesting right on top of it) so, if at all possible, stop the work on the garage! Regards

    2. Morning,
      Thank you so much for your response. After a sleepless night of wondering if the chicks are going to be okay, I walked through to the nest this morning at 5 and the chicks have passed on. Feel pretty devastated. Hopefully Robyn will nest here again next season and we will see three more chicks enter the life cycle in our garden.
      Thank you for your input, it's really appreciated.
      Cheers for now,

    3. Oh noooooo Nic! How utterly devastating! I DO know exactly how you feel as I also lost my Robin babies (a couple of posts back here : http://hedgiesjoy.blogspot.co.za/2015/10/the-robin-babies-are-gone.html and here : http://hedgiesjoy.blogspot.co.za/2015/10/my-robiin-has-babies.html), but hopefully both our Robins will soon be raising their chicks with more success.



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