Robins - Characteristics and tips for the nesting box

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Robins - Characteristics and tips for the nesting box: characteristics

Rich melodies and a healthy appetite for pests - the robins are a great asset despite their small size. And not only in the garden, but also on the balcony. However, they need sufficient protection and food so that they feel really well and keep insects away.
This also applies to the winter. Bird lovers, hobby gardeners and all other interested parties will find out below which measures are recommended or even necessary for the care of robins.


  • Family: Flycatcher
  • Scientific name: Erithacus rubecula
  • Distribution: Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, Mediterranean islands
  • Identification: orange-red coloration from forehead to chest
  • Size: 13.5 to 14 cm
  • Weight: 15 to 18 grams
  • Sex determination: visually no differences, only to recognize the behavior during the courtship
  • Span: up to 22 cm
  • Food: insects, spiders, worms, less seeds and fruits
  • Enemies: cats and martens, birds of prey such as sparrowhawks and falcons, humans
  • Endangerment: is not considered endangered
  • Singing: mostly at dusk, very variable
  • Nesting sites: cup-shaped nest, close to the ground, in dense vegetation
  • Migratory bird: European and Northern European robin populations move into warmer climes starting in October
  • Life expectancy: about 5 years
  • Propagation: two egg deposits of about 6 each between April and July

Benefits in the garden

Since the robin feeds mainly on insects, larvae, worms and smaller spiders, it can perform well in the garden and contributes to crop protection. Those lucky enough to find one or more robins in their own green should welcome them. With a suitable nesting box, protection against predators and help with foraging, this is quite simply possible in the long term.


The robin is one of the early birds. Already before sunrise his vocals are heard, which is noticeably variable. But even in the evening twilight, the robin can make its voice heard. When other species of birds sing it is less common. Mostly the representatives of the flycatchers are waiting for more quiet times. In urban areas, this may also be the case long after dusk.


Those who welcome the robins in the garden and want to facilitate their breeding, must provide sufficient food. If the environment is not insect-rich, the little birds with the brightly colored breast will not show up and certainly will not brood. Ideal are natural gardens with dense hedges and undergrowth. The following tips can help make your own green space suitable:
  • let the plants grow wild in at least one corner
  • do not use pesticides
  • Just trimming hedges outside of the breeding season
  • create a wild, near-natural meadow in a friendly area for robins
  • never mow all the meadows at the same time
  • Leave leaves or brushwood
  • create natural garden pond
  • Use lean and nectar plants
Through these small changes, the robins find numerous insects during the spring and summer and can eat them safely through the relative protection of the dense design. In addition, it is useful to put some plants in the garden, which also feeds the robin or by it can hide wonderfully. This includes:
  • liguster
  • daphne
  • dogwood
  • haws
  • Robin bread
  • blackberries
  • buckthorn
  • elder
  • euonymus
  • snowball
  • ivy

Care in autumn and winter

In temperate climates not all robins are migratory birds. However, to avoid significant reductions in bird populations during particularly severe winters, they still require reliable feed sources. In natural gardens, these arise naturally. Foliage heaps, undergrowth and brushwood house insects and thus provide food for the robins. In cities, very long winters or more decorative gardens, however, the birds have it difficult. Therefore, it should be fed in any case.

Robin nesting box

In order to get used to the birds in good time, it makes sense to set up a suitable feeding area already at the end of the summer. This should be close to the ground but protected, so that the robins are safe at least from cats and martens. The following tips help with this protection and the structure of the feeding:
  1. Feed directly onto the - snow-free ground, for example on a board - sprinkle.
  2. All around the feeding place with wire mesh, bend the wire outwards at the upper end.
  3. Alternatively, use a bird feeder with a large, flat bottom plate or transform the window sill into a feeding place.
  4. Choose feed for insectivores that contains mealworms, ant dolls and other protein sources.
  5. Mix nut slivers and cereal flakes.
In the garden, sprinkle food into places that normally harbor insects - such as on twigs and sticks, under hedges and underbrush
Anyone who has already got used to the robin's additional feeding and observes it every day at a certain time can go one step further and feed fresh, still living mealworms from the pet trade. These must, however, be recorded quickly. If they freeze, that can be dangerous for the robins.

Courtship behavior and breeding times

From March, a robin female goes into the area of ​​a male and behaves here at first placating. After a few days, the male ceases to defend himself and the couple protects his area together. After the courtship everything goes pretty fast. An open, suppository-shaped nest is built within a few days, padded with feathers, hair and other soft materials. The female lays about six eggs and incubates for 14 days, mostly alone. The robin males meanwhile provides food. After two weeks, the young birds hatch and take another 14 days to become fledged. Even then, they still beg for food from their parents and follow them.
Once the nest is clear again, breed the parent animals again. Between April and July, the robins usually have two ovipositions.

nesting box

The robins preferably breed in dense plants, for example in hedges and thorny shrubs, and indeed near the ground. Nests are rarely found over a height of two or three meters. In cities they make do with holes and half caves in walls and on house walls. Here also the nesting boxes can be used. Hung in hedges, blackberry bushes, under eaves or ivy-covered walls, these are gladly accepted if they fulfill the following requirements:
  • semi-open shape or large entrances
  • protected from rain
  • durable, ideally made of wood
  • Openings for cats, birds of prey and marten kept too small
  • clean and empty inside, the robins provide themselves for the nesting material
So-called half-cave breeders have long been preferred for the robins. Due to their very open shape, the birds like to take it, but unfortunately this design also offers the enemies easy access. To prefer is therefore a nest box, which has oval holes. These should measure about 3 x 5 cm. Tip: A side-opening nesting box is ideal for cleaning, which should be done in the late summer or fall. So the box is ready for the next breeding season.

cats protection

To protect against predators, it is advisable to differentiate nesting box and feeding place with wire mesh or points to the outside. Thorny bushes, dense hedges and smooth walls are also cheap.
If the robin is to be clamped as a helper in the garden or simply keep the area insect-free in front of the windows, then only a few measures are needed. Even those who only want to observe the feathered friends can optimally design the living space for them with little effort.

Worth knowing about robins shortly

  • Robins lay their nests in corresponding niches of rock walls, screes, buildings, trees and embankments.
  • Special nesting aids have been developed for the birds - the niche breeding box.
  • The best known is the so-called semi hollow, which is open to the front in half. It has the disadvantage that it is easily accessible to Nester robbers.
  • Therefore, a new nesting box was developed. This now has two oval Einfluglöcher of about 32 x 50 mm in size.
  • There are also nesting boxes with a special front stem. This nest boxes can be hung freely.
  • The half-cave has an additional breeding room insert. Even on dark hanging areas, the entrance opening provides good light.
  • Robin nesting boxes should be mounted at a height of 2 to 3 meters. The best place is under a roof projection in the semi-shade.
  • If possible, the opening must point away from the house and be difficult to reach for cats and martens.
  • It is important to clean the nesting box once a year. The best time for this is the end of September and October.
  • Robins also like to breed in rice heaps and root systems. Also tree hollows, wall holes and other caves are accepted.
  • Occasionally nests in cans, pots, buckets, watering cans and shoes are being built at dumping grounds and on dumps.

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