European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

European Robin

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Erithacus rubecula | [UK] European Robin | [FR] Rouge-gorge familier | [DE] Rotkehlchen | [ES] Petirrojo Europeo | [NL] Roodborst


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Erithacus rubecula EU w, c to n AF
Erithacus rubecula caucasicus
Erithacus rubecula hyrcanus
Erithacus rubecula melophilus
Erithacus rubecula rubecula
Erithacus rubecula superbus
Erithacus rubecula tataricus
Erithacus rubecula valens
Erithacus rubecula witherbyi

Physical charateristics

European Robin is easily identified by its reddish-orange face and breast, contrasting with whitish lower underparts. Upperparts are olive brown, as wings and tail.
Conical bill is dark brown with pale base. Eyes are black. Thin legs and feet are pale brown.
Both sexes are similar.
Juvenile has underparts heavily spotted with brown. Until first moult, it lacks reddish patch on face and breast.
European Robin sings mainly to attract female and marks its territory, rather early morning from an exposed perch. Sometimes, it may sing in the middle of the night if it is close to a bright light. European Robin sings year round, except in late summer when moulting. Autumn song is quieter and less forceful than in spring.
When on the ground, European Robin adopts erect posture. It flutters wings and tail. It flies from a low perch to other while flitting. When alarmed, it bobs and raises its tail.
It is often seen near human areas, frequently tames, taking worms from recently-dug earth, and sometimes entering houses.

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : West, Central


European Robin lives in natural woodlands, hedgerows, parks and gardens. They are also found in various forms of scrubby cover in more open country. European Robin lives in Europe and Great Britain. Birds of northern parts of the habitat migrate southwards in winter. Also in Northern Africa and to West Siberia and Iran. Females move a short distance from nesting site to a nearly territory for winter feeding. Males keep the same all year round.


When pair is formed, female builds the nest, concealing it in dense vegetation. It is a domed structure, made with leaves, moss and feathers, and lined with rootlets and hair.
European Robin nests in various places, such as ledges inside porches and sheds, also in nest boxes, and even in cans, pots and any place where it may build its nest.
They breed from April to June, sometimes as soon as January.
Female lays 5 to 7 eggs. Incubation lasts about 11 to 14 days, by female, fed by the male three times per hour. Altricial chicks are fed and raised by both adults.
Young fledge at about 12 to 15 days after hatching, and become independent when they are three weeks old. They reach their sexual maturity at one year.
This species produces 2 to 3 broods per year. When female begins the next clutch, male continues to feed and protect young of previous brood.
Both sexes defend territory all year round. They are aggressive birds, and fights between males can be extremely vicious, and may even to be to the death.
They are highly territorial, displaying their red breasts vigorously to any intruders, and even chasing off large birds from their winter territories. European Robin may attack its own reflection, seeing red feathers. It ruffles is feathers and drops its wings.
Fight begins by striking the intruder single blows with feet and wings, or bowling it off its perch. Then, both opponents begin rolling over and over on the ground, and fluttering in front of each other, striking with legs. Each bird tries to pin its rival to the ground. Fights may last one minute to an hour, even much more.
European Robin is monogamous. When pair is formed, male brings food to female as courtship feeding.

Feeding habits

European Robin feeds mainly on insects and spiders, but it also consumes berries and seeds during cold winters. It may frequent bird feeders in winter.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Erithacus rubecula is a widespread breeder across most of Europe, which constitutes
>75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is extremely
large (>43,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species
declined in Sweden during 1990-2000, these losses were compensated for by increases
in the sizeable populations in France and the United Kingdom, and the species
underwent a small increase overall.
European Robin status Least Concern


Most populations partially migratory, with males more sedentary than females; totally migratory in north-east of range and probably largely sedentary in extreme south. Thus British and Irish populations largely resident, but some birds migrate SSW at least as far as southern Iberia. Winters south to Saharan oases and Middle East. A nocturnal migrant, though some local movements occur by day.
Main wintering area lies from Ireland and Britain south to Morocco and south-east through Europe with few birds north-east of line from southern Denmark to Bosporus (Turkey), though some December records as far north-east as southern Sweden and north-east Poland. High ground of central Europe largely vacated. Notable concentrations in Mediterranean basin, including areas where breeding does not occur, e.g. parts of Iberian and Yugoslavian coasts, southern Turkey, and most Mediterranean islands.
Autumn passage on broad front. Passage on Polish Baltic coast mid-August to early November, peaking late September and October; passage in south appears to occur slightly later than in north, and also slight tendency for adults to pass later than juveniles. Arrivals at wintering sites in Andalucia (Spain) occur from early September, peaking in October, and North Africa reached by late September (exceptionally late August), with largest influxes during October. Most records from Saharan oases in period late December to March. First signs of return passage in early February with increasing numbers along coasts of Algeria and Morocco. By late February, first birds arrive in Switzerland and southern Germany, exceptionally southern Norway. Peak passage throughout most of range in March. Although Baltic coast reached in mid-March, birds do not reach Urals until early May.

Distribution map

European Robin distribution range map

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