Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Around Robins

“Scattered showers” meant no proper birding, ringing or photography and soon I may have to change the blog title to “An Ex-Birder Reminisces”. But in between cutting the rampant hedge and the verdant grass and after oiling the oxidized pliers, I opened a garden net.

I have yet to see any young Goldfinches in the garden this year. I’m sure they are about, but just a couple of adults today. To catch two unwary House Sparrows is most unusual, one an adult male, the other a juvenile. Not much else before the wind sprung up again, a Blackbird, a Robin, and juveniles of Coal Tit and Blue Tit.

House Sparrow

Coal Tit



When I post pictures of our UK Robin, properly known as Common Robin or Eurasian Robin, (Latin name Erithacus rubecula) I inevitably receive a few comments from US readers about the fact that it doesn’t look much like the robin they know. So for my friends in the US unfamiliar with the following, here’s a tiny bit of a history and science lesson all in one. I will even throw in a spot of poetry.

When settlers from the UK reached America sometime after the year 1600 and came across the red-breasted bird which bore a similarity to the robin left back home on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean they naturally christened the unfamiliar one “robin”.

The American Robin Turdus migratorius is a migratory songbird of the thrush family which is not closely related to the European Robin, the robin instead belonging to the flycatcher family. The American Robin is more closely related to the Eurasian Blackbird/Common Blackbird Turdus merula, so closely related that both belong to the same genus of Turdus, true thrushes. I guess that after the American and European continents split apart all those millions of ago the thrush families also went their separate ways and after all that evolutionary change there are now some 65 Turdus thrushes in the world. 

 American Robin – Turdus migratorius

Blackbird - Turdus merula 

An old English word for thrush is “throstle”

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! 
He, too, is no mean preacher: 
Come forth into the light of things, 
Let Nature be your teacher. 

William Wordsworth


Rohrerbot said...

Thanks Phil for the clarification. I always wondered why they were so different from each other. It makes sense:)

Chris said...

Nice to have a bit of history. I stopped in Boston to go to Panama and saw the American robin for the first time and my reaction was reverse... I thought it had nothing to do with our robin ;-) Beautiful pictures too Phil!

Anni said...

Awesome...I love the up close and personal 'profiles' of all the smaller birds you've shared...and the robin..oh the robin, we rarely seen robins this far fact in the 10 years I've lived here in Coast Bend Texas...I've seen ONE.

eileeninmd said...

Great collection of birds, Phil! Thanks for the story of the UK Robin.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Phil, these photos are so crisp and clear. Amazing work! Thanks for the lesson on Robins.

news said...

Hi Phil: Hopefully soon we will manage a spell of settled weather when we can both do what we like doing best All the best JWB.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

The Blackbird, marvelous, the House Sparrow, a little fluffy, feather ball, so cute and those in between, very sweet. We are due to have 100' temps today through Sunday...we need rain~

EG CameraGirl said...

Nice to see the comparison between the two robins. Thanks.

Dave said...

Great post

I cant think who but a UK non league footy team still play at the "Throstles Nest"

Old world still lives!

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