Monday 21 December 2009

The North Wind doth blow . . .

The north wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow,

And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?

He'll sit in a barn,

And keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

This British Nursery rhyme is thought to date from the 16th century. It was intended to teach children to associate safety, warmth and security with home while allowing them to empathise with the situation of the robin.

The birds have been busier on the feeders since the weather has become colder, building up their fat reserves for the weeks to come and the huge expenditure of energy in the breeding season which starts much earlier than we may appreciate. During the autumn and early winter the robins have been defending their territories preparatory to pairing off. The female robin does all the chasing and eventually decides on her mate after visiting several males. The first indication of a pairing is two robins feeding alongside each other but they will not breed until Spring.


  1. Love this winter scene. And I thought Robins were a sign of spring. The cute little nursery rhyme seems to fit nicely.

  2. I feel so sorry for the birds during this severe weather. The robins in my garden become very tame and wait for me to feed them in the morning. I like your picture of the feeder and birds.

  3. How interesting about your robins. So the female chooses her mate? Fascinating!

  4. Carol, I think our UK robins look rather different to USA robins? Our robins stay with us all year round and are a familiar sight in gardens and parks.
    Chris - so do I! Even the blackbirds are bolder and thrushes are visiting the feeders again.
    Stine - sexual equality for robins ;-

  5. Lovely photos and interesting post. I marvel at how birds manage to thrive in such snowy conditions. Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday!
    Hugs and blessings,

  6. I am so glad I remembered to enlarge your photo. The details of the little robins are lovely. The English Robin is a beautiful little bird. I have him on several of my Christmas cards that friends have sent me from England. I always love them.

  7. storyteller - thank you! Hardy beasts our winter birds!
    Denise - we English are insanely proud and protective of our robins - or perhaps just insane ;-)


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