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Robin in Winter

Robin in Winter

 THE ROBIN   –   Latin Name:  Erithacus rubecula


  • A specialist Robin and songbird mixed seed will bring robins to your garden. 
  • Feed that contains berries and insects will help the robin survive the winter.
  •  Their usual diet is insects and their larvae, spiders and worms, weed seeds and fruit berries,  seeds, nuts and oats. 
    Loves mealworms and eating from birdtables.


  • Large, black eyes. 
  • Forehead, throat and breast are red. 
  • Upper part of a robin is olive-brown. 
  • Robins have  very slender legs.
  • Young are spotted and are lacking red colour

Habitat  Gardens, town, hedgerows, woods with undergrowth, copses, scrub, villages and towns. 

Song:  The robin’s song is a high, clear tone with a wide range of notes.  Calls include – tic, tick, tic.

Often sings late into the evening

Breeding : May to July

Eggs:  4-6 pale eggs.White with sandy or reddish freckles which are brooded by the female robin

Incubation:13-14 days

Fledging: 12-14 days.  Two or more broods

Cup shaped nest mostly made of moss, leaves and stalks.  Often built near the ground amongst creepers, at the foot of a bush.  Nests in gardens and hedgerows. 
Robins are well known for making nests in a variety of places, such as old kettles, old watering cans, shelves in sheds. 

Size:  The robin is a medium sized bird, up to 5 1/2 inches.   

Robins are solitary birds, sometimes fighting with eath other over territory.

Robins can become very tame and have been known to take feed out of the palm of a person’s hand.

So if you keep feeding the birds you too may gain the confidence of a robin and have the unbelievable feeling of a robin sitting on your hand.

Robin in Yorkshire

Robin in Yorkshire

Why not watch this short video of a robin in my garden –   



If you have any robin stories, facts,  poems or knowledge please let me know as I’d love to add them to this Robin Information Sheet.  Trisha



GREAT TIT (Parus major)

Colourful Great Tit

Colourful Great Tit

Here are some facts about the Great Tit


Forages in hedges and trees for insects, spiders and worms. Also likes –

  • Fruit
  • Peas
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Coconut
  • Fat
  • Suet
  • Cheese

The Great Tit likes woodland habitat.

It has a beak strong enough to crack hazel and beech nuts.

Can crack hazel and beech nuts as well

Can crack hazel and beech nuts with their beak

The Great Tit is a visitor to many bird tables but also likes to feed on the ground.

The Great Tit is the largest of the British tits and is easy to recognise because of its yellow breast and long black central band which runs from its chin to its tail.  It has a black and white head.  It is a really colourful bird.

The tail is blue grey with white outer feathers.

Females have less glossy caps and less black on the breast.


I always think the Great Tit looks pretty and charming but in reality it can be aggressive to other birds who try and share the bird table or peanut feeder. 

I have seen Great Tits behave aggressively in spring and Summer when they are defending their area.   They open their beaks and spread their wings to try to get the other bird to go away.  This war keeps on going until one of the birds gives up and flys away.  It is really interesting to watch.

There have been recordings of Great Tits actually killing other birds.  Their beak is a good weapon – it must be as it can open a hazel-nut.

The Great Tit is a true woodland bird.  They rely on insect food to feed their young.

Great Tits also depend on garden feeders and bird tables and can make themselves at home in gardens.

Great Tit enjoying a fat ball

Great Tit enjoying a fat ball

SIZE OF BIRD – 14 cm

EGGS   5 to 11 eggs are laid.  The eggs are white with red spots

INCUBATION  – 13 to 14 days

BREEDING – One brood

Great Tits have been known to take over blue tits nest boxes.  They put a new lining over the blue tits eggs and hatch their own eggs (bird against bird again)

3 weeks (approx).  The young are fed mainly on caterpillars.  The Great tits time their families to work with the peak numbers of caterpillars.  This time changes each year.

Question – how do the birds know weeks in advance when there will be the most caterpillars about.

The Great Tit makes a nest from grasses, moss, wool and any other material that is available.  They will nest in many places.  Some of the places are

  • hole fronted nest boxes,
  • tree holes,
  • eaves,
  • stone walls,
  • flowerpots

Males take little or no part in building the nest, but they feed the hen while she is incubating and laying the eggs.

  1 1/8 inch (29mm) diamater entrance hole or slightly larger.  Interior depth of at least 5 inches (127mm) from hole to floor. 

Floor needs to be at least 4 inches x 4 inches (100mm x 100 mm)

Most of the birdsong has a ringing quality but lots of different calls have been described for the Great tit.  The song has been described as ‘clink’ and ‘teacher-teacher-teacher’


Great Tits should be welcome in the garden as they feed their young on protein – rich caterpillars. 

They also benefit from our birdtables and bird feeders – especially in winter.

Once the fledglings are independent from their parents they feed in flocks with other species of tits. 

They roost together in Summer and Autumn.

In winter, so they have better protection from the freezing cold weather they nestle alone in any crevice or perhaps a hole in a tree.   I know they will be visiting my bird feeders for many months to come.

It’s good to know the birdfood I put out and the hedges round the garden are useful and helping Great Tits and other birds keep in good condition.

I would like to thank Sara from FARMING FRIENDS for the photograph of the Great Tit eating a fatball. Thanks Sara[ad#125x125square][ad#125x125square][ad#125x125square]

House Sparrow Fact Sheet



A variety of ‘cheep and chirp’
One of the reasons they sing is to keep in contact with the flock they are in.


House sparrows are seed eaters.  They means they have beaks that let them crack open the husk and get the seed from inside.  Many birds can’t do this.

House sparrows eat a variety of bird food and scraps.

Some food they enjoy –

  • nyjer seed
  • peanut granules
  • black sunflower seeds
  • millet
  • Also a variety of kitchen scraps

House sparrows pick insects from spiders webs. They feed their nestlings on insects.

House sparrows steal food from  the beaks of other birds.

Sparrows use bird tables, ground feeders and hanging feeders.


The male house sparrow has

  • brown upperparts that are streaked with black
  • grey cheeks, rump and crown
  • black bin

Female and juvinile birds are –

  • more softly patterned
  • do not have the grey on the rump and crown
  • do not have the black on the head
  • They are plainer than the male



House sparrows spend a lot of time in gardens and near buildings.  They feed communally.

After the young have fledged the parents use the nest as a warm roost during the winter months.

(Note:  I wonder if that explains what I saw last November when I saw a sparrow carrying nesting material in it’s beak.)

The young born that summer use ever greens to roost in during the cold winter nights.  They roost together for warmth and to survive.

(Note:  We have a lovely evergreen hedge that is full of birdsong in winter.  The area is alive with birdsong in winter.)


Length 14 cm ( 5 1/2 inches)
Wingspan: 20-22 cm (8-9 inches)


  • 2-3 clutches of 3-5 eggs
  • The eggs are brown blotched white eggs
  • The eggs are laid any time from April to August.


  • Eggs are incubated for 11-14 days
  • Both parents incubate the eggs


  • Fledging is 11-19 days after hatching


  • Lined with feathers and bits of plants
  • The nest is built by both parents
  • House sparrows usually nest near buildings
  • House sparrows sometimes make a nest which is domed.  They make this of different grasses in a tree or a hedge.
  • House sparrows have been known to chase house martins and swallows out of their nests.  The house sparrow then uses the ready built nest to rails its young.


  • You rarely see a lone sparrow
  • The house sparrow rarely lives away from humans
  • House sparrows can survive in areas as diverse as the subartic towns of Sweden to the tropical cities of Brazil.

I put some wire round my bird table a while ago to keep out pigeons and rooks – here is a photo of some sparrows at the bird table – but Birdy Cafe was empty when they flew in.

Sparrows at an empty bird table

Sparrows at an empty bird table

If you have anything else that can be added about House Sparrows please let me know.

Chaffinch Fact Sheet

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs )
A male chaffinch

Male Chaffinch

Male Chaffinch


Chaffinches eat a variety of seeds and scraps. They eat Peanuts granules and sunflower hearts.

They also eat


 Chaffinch is a seed eater and in the winter and autumn feeds in flocks on farmland

In the nesting season they they forage in trees and bushes, hunting for spiders, caerpillars, flies and other inverterbrates. Chaffinches also have the ability to feed on flying insects by snatching them from the sky.

Chaffinches feed on birdtables and garden feeders all year round.

The chaffinch can be identified by it’s short , thick bill and white wing marking bars.

Males in spring, are very colourful. They have blue grey crowns, nape and bill, olive green rump, and pink underparts

Females are plain but they do have white wingbars. Upperparts are olive borwn. underparts pale greyish.
Adult chaffinches moult in early Autumn and from then on, through the winter they are a paler colour.

When Spring comes round again the male’s pink face and body and blue grey crown returns – its’ breeding plumage.

In flight the chaffinch closes its wings completely (this is inbetween flapping it’s wings). When the chaffinch closes its wings completely it rises and falls in the air . It is that undulating flight that help identify the chaffinch in flight.

The chaffinch can be found nearly everwhere where are are trees. It is a woodland bird but also lives in gardens and parks.


Length 14.5 cm (6 inches)
Wing span 24.5-28.5cm (10-11 1/2 inches).
Weight 18-29g. ( 3/4 – 1 0z)
EGGS: pale blue with pink and brownish speckling.

INCUBATION: 11-13 days. The female chaffince is responsible for the incubation.

BREEDING: April to July. Usually only have one brood.

FLEDGING: 12-14 days.

NEST: the nest is a lichen and cobweb covered nest. It is made of grass and moss. Usually made in a fork in a tree and is lined with feathers and rootlets.

It is the female that decorates the outer part of the nest with lichens and spiders webs. She is also solely in charge of building the nest.

When the famila Chaffinch begins to nest build she ties parts of spiders web around twigs. Moss and grass is then added. She then puts more nesting material into finish the nest.

(I would love to see a chaffinch decorating her home with litchen and spiders webs. It sounds like something out of a story book)

Many garden birds like to nest in trees. The chaffinch is one of them. Putting up nest boxes encourages breeding and helps many birds. I do not have any information about nest box sizes for chaffinches. They usually nest in orchards, hedgerows, gardens and trees.


Alarm call is ‘pink, pink’.
The song sounds like ‘chip, chip, chip, chooee, chooee, cheeoo.
The male chaffinch sings all the time during the breeding season. Sings a small number of song phrases. They are usually sung in the same order.
Chaffinches in different parts of England have different ‘dialect’ songs . We may not be able to tell the different. The difference in their song means they only attract chaffinches with the same song who are from the same local area. There may be a survival reason here. If two chaffinches from the same area breed they will know the area and a local female will be more likely to breed in an environment she knows. A strange chaffinch would have to take time to get to know the area and where the food was. This seems logical anyway.

Almost the whole of Europe. Males do not move as far as the females in winter. Males stay near their breeding grounds.

Males and females often separate in winter.


So the chaffinches that visit our gardens are more than likely to have made the area their home.

I sometimes wonder how many generations of birds I’ve fed over the past ten to 15 years.

Chaffinches often visit my garden and feeders. I take them a bit for granted. (Maybe they take me for granted as well! Or take the food I put out for granted)

I’ll keep on feeding the birds. It’s good to see the sparrows, chaffinches and blackbirds mingling on the lawn.

Feed the Birds!!

If  you have any more ‘chaffinch information’ I’d love to know.