Robin redbreast

Picture perfect

Your best shots - plus 8 things you never knew about robins

Grantor Maxine Headland sent in this shot of a robin on her land for a competition in last winter’s Gridline magazine, but we kept hold of it to share this year with a few more of your excellent entries.

But before you take a look at some of the other grantor shots, here are eight things you maybe didn’t know about the visitor most commonly associated with winter.

  1. Because of high mortality in the first year of life, a robin has an average life expectancy of 1.1 years. But once past its first year it can expect to live longer – one robin has been recorded as reaching 19 years of age.
  2. Most British robins defend their territories year round, though a handful head south to winter on the Continent.
  3. Many are faithful to both their summer and winter territories, hundreds of kilometres apart.
  4. The robin’s red breast is used by males to settle territorial disputes, especially during the breeding season.
  5. A dispute starts with males singing at each other, trying to get a higher perch to show off their breast most effectively. This usually ends the challenge, with one individual deferring to the other but sometimes it can escalate to a fight which can result in injury or death.
  6. In some populations, up to 10 per cent of adult mortality is due to clashes over territory. This is the reason why robins are born without a red breast, and don’t acquire it until their first moult.
  7. Robins will nest almost anywhere. Recorded nest sites include plant pots, a pigeonhole in a desk, the engine of a WWII plane and even on an unmade bed.
  8. Robins are one of the first birds to start the dawn chorus and one of the last to stop singing at night.
Axe in a woodpile

Ready for winter

By Penny Paisley from Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Countryside montage

Summer memories

A montage by Maggie Curtis

Six little piggies

By Muriel Naughton from Devizes, Wiltshire

Highland pony and newborn

By breeder Jean Ralston from Perthshire