Talk:European robin

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Good articleEuropean robin has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Does the last sentence mean that the Robin is a member of Erithacus rubecula, or not? -- Zoe

Hi Zoe, do you mean the binomial classification? If so, that's just the scientific name of the bird, and in this case that's the genus (Erithacus) and species (rubecula). Take a look at the entry for WikiProject Tree of Life. -- Ramin

What I'm saying is the last sentence seems a non-sequitur. You never said until then that a Robin IS a member of Erithacus rubecula. I GUESS it means that it IS one, but I'm not sure. Please be more specific. -- Zoe
The European Robin is Erithacus rubecula. As previously stated, that's its scientific name. However, it's a member of the genus Erithacus. --Evice 22:48, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Does anyone know if the robin is well known to gardeners continental Europe?

Is that a commemorative stamp or a Christmas stamp?

Should there be seperate pages on wikipedia for thematics (themes on stamps) and a link from this site to the robin thematics page?

Postage stamp image has been moved off this page for months now. Snowman 14:23, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

The Robin in culture[edit]

I have added the word 'unofficial' before 'national bird of Britain'. This is supported by the following information from the proceedings of the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Culture Committee, 31 October 2006[1]:

"Despite some assertions to the contrary, it seems that the United Kingdom does not have an official national bird. The European Robin (erithacus rubecula) is frequently listed as Britain’s most popular bird, and is a favourite for use on items such as postage stamps, however it has never been submitted to an official process of recognition and has at no point received UK parliamentary support.

"Having said this, the European Robin has previously been promoted as the “national bird” by the British branch of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP). In October 1960, responding to a resolution from the ICBP, its chairman wrote a letter to The Times asking for the views of readers on the subject of choosing of a bird for Britain. After reviewing readership response, the Robin was deemed to be overwhelmingly the most popular UK bird with all sections of the community. In accordance with the perceived public will, the British branch of the ICBP sought for the Robin to be adopted as the “Bird for Britain”, and the organisation itself began to use the Robin as its official logo. Despite initial public interest, the European Robin was never submitted for recognition as the UK’s official national bird, and no branches of government became involved in its promotion as a national symbol. After continuing to represent the British branch of the ICBP for some years, it seems that the Robin was ultimately dropped from use." Russ London 10:40, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Since a 'citation needed' was subsequently added to the line in question on the main page, I have added the link to the PDF file from which I have quoted above. Russ London 16:08, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
Above has a brief mention in the artical page. Snowman 00:39, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Harry Witherby's Robin?[edit]

Is Erithacus rubecula witherbyi named for Harry Witherby? If so, I'd like to mention that on his page. Andy Mabbett 18:36, 24 March 2007 (UTC)


"European Robins and similar small European species are often called chats." Are they? I've never ever heard a robin referred to as a chat; indeed, I've never heard them called anything other than 'robins'. Who calls them chats? Scientists? In what context? What's the source? This should be made clear. 13:48, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Thrush/chat or flycatcher[edit]

Does anyone know the source for calling a robin a flycatcher? In Birds of the Western Palearctic (2004) it is classified with 'Thrushes, chats' and not with 'Old world flycatchers'. The Tutor (talk) 22:28, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

I have now found that the source is Handbook of Birds of the World. Is this now accepted as the RSPB website ( still gives them in the 'Thrushes, chats' group? The Tutor (talk) 17:43, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Good article nomination on hold[edit]

This article's Good Article promotion has been put on hold. During review, some issues were discovered that can be resolved without a major re-write. This is how the article, as of May 12, 2008, compares against the six good article criteria:

1. Well written?: Generallu yes, but see below.
2. Factually accurate?: Some paragraphs are without citations (See second and third paragraphs in 'Subspecies', second paragraph in 'Behaviour')
3. Broad in coverage?: yes
4. Neutral point of view?: no problem
5. Article stability? stable
6. Images?: Ok

Please address these matters soon and then leave a note here showing how they have been resolved. After 48 hours the article should be reviewed again. If these issues are not addressed within 7 days, the article may be failed without further notice. Thank you for your work so far. Ruslik (talk) 08:19, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

1) The article says: "As noted above, robins from the British Isles...". However robins from British Isles have not been mentioned above. (done. redundant anyway)

2) It is batter to unbold Tenerife Robin and redbreast. (done)

3) The units of length: sometimes cm are used and sometimes centimeters. It is also better to write million years istead of mya. (done and done)

4) If the citation is for the whole paragraph, it is better to place it at the end or the paragraph. Now some paragraphs has refs in the middle and it is not clear, if they are for the whole paragraph or not. (in general, a ref is placed at the end of the sentence or few sentences it qualifies, or at the end of the paragraph. I would have placed them at the end of paragraphs if possible. Parts afterwards are therefore lacking in cites. As this is GA, I thought it was only necessary to cite those things likely to be challenged, though it is always prudent if the final goal goal is FA to cite as much as possible. Please tag anything glaring which needs citing but I will try and add a few)

5) The article uses E. r. melophilus as an example. But why this subspecies? Are continental robins different from them ot the same? (the nominate subspecies is rubecula of continental europe, distinct (though very similar) from melophilus of the british isles. Given most of us editing this article are anglophone and have utilised English guidebooks, the article is biased toward the UK subspecies. I will try and see what I can find on the nominate subspecies.)

Ruslik (talk) 08:19, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

I added 'fact' tags. Ruslik (talk) 09:23, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
I saw. Good, gives me an idea of which salient points to address first. Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:23, 12 May 2008 (UTC)


Nearly there (I think). Having trouble with one reference (which I will comment out possibly) and musing on how to address point 5, as all books I have are mainly british. Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 06:40, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Only one 'fact' template remains (after the first paragraph in the first section). Ruslik (talk) 07:50, 17 May 2008 (UTC)
I've added the Cuvier ref, copyedited esp for consistency in spelling conventions, and tweaked a bit Jimfbleak (talk) 08:46, 17 May 2008 (UTC)
I am waiting for the resolution of the issue number 5. Ruslik (talk) 13:33, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
I have been reading more. They are very similar and I am just trying to figure out how to word it from my sources. frustrating :( Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 13:42, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
OK, I have tweaked it so it discusses both subspecies together as they are very similar - thus we have the nominate and the anglophone there together. I have found the German page vey informative and will try to incorporate some (inline referenced) material too. Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 14:04, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
Ok. I will list it. Ruslik (talk) 05:31, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I have found a little bit more but not 'core' info. Am planning to take it to FAC if'n I can get a hold of this book......Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:35, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

"English robin"[edit]

One editor seems determined to add the name "English robin" to the article. He/she has now given up trying to add it to the lead as an alternative name, but has added a sentence to the Taxonomy section. I strongly dispute the notion that the bird "is commonly called the English Robin in England". I don't have access to the source cited, but it seems very unlikely that this in any way reflects the current situation. Nobody in England (or Scotland, or Wales, or Ireland) would call it an "English robin", as there is no other robin regularly seen here. It's either a robin, or in formal contexts, a European robin. I can see the adjective "English" being applied from time to time in situations where a distinction with the American robin is necessary, but "English" does not form part of the name of the bird. I vote to delete the sentence. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 12:34, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I have never heard it called as such but then again I am in Australia, so will wait for some more EC-members to chime in...Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 13:13, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I have never heard the name "English Robin" in England. It is certainly not given in the "Birds of the Western Palearctic", which gives 'European Robin' as from the US.The Tutor (talk) 13:32, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
He has probably given up because of my advice. Ruslik (talk) 13:28, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I've never heard it, but it has a ref - what is not clear is whether the ref is reliable for birds - title doesn't inspire confidence. jimfbleak (talk) 15:47, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I suspect the reference is a historical and/or whimsical text - and it certainly doesn't look like a reliable source for bird names. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 16:03, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I have tracked down that reference. Journeys Through Bookland was published about 100 years ago, and it includes a poem called "The English robin". See here for full text. It is quite clear that "English" is simply an adjective used for clarification, to distinguish E. rubecula from T. migratorius. It is not part of the name. I have accordingly deleted the sentence from the Taxonomy section. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 16:48, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

The reason I have been trying to add the name "English Robin" to this article is because I have found it in several works of British literature in the late 19th century, including Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden", her short story "My Robin", and the poetry in the book I cited. Doesn't it stand to reason that the name "English Robin" was used to refer to this particular bird during the late 19th century, considering these three pieces of literature from the time period making the exact same reference? Neelix (talk) 19:01, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that all makes sense. But if so, it needs to be expressed that way, as a historical note, and not in the form "is also known as ...", as if English robin is a current alternative name for the bird - which it simply isn't. I also wonder if the Taxonomy section is the right place for such a note. Maybe it belongs in the "cultural" section? Having said all that, I still strongly doubt your thesis. I believe that all those writers were using "English" as a descriptive adjective, not in any way implying that the bird was ever named English robin. I think "English" is akin to "sweet" or "friendly" or "familiar" or "beautiful" or any other adjective that might happen to have found itself stuck in front of the noun. I don't believe anyone actually called it an English robin. If you have evidence that suggests otherwise, let's see it! SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 19:42, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I do believe "English Robin" to have been a proper name rather than "English" being simply an adjective. My position is supported by the literature; the poetry in the book I cited contrasts the features of the English Robin with that of the American Robin. As "American Robin" is a proper name (as attested on the American Robin article) rather than "American" being simply an adjective, it would seem odd to pair the two terms "English Robin" and "American Robin" if they were not both proper names. As to the suggestion that the "taxonomy" section may not be the proper location for this information, editors who have invested more time in organizing this article would have a better understanding of the best location than I would. I do, however, believe that it is important to include this information somewhere in the article. Neelix (talk) 20:04, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but I'm not convinced. The American Robin is so called simply to distinguish it from the [true] Robin, and there's no question of an exact pairing of "American Robin" vs. "English Robin". That's not how naming, and language, works. Do you maintain that the Flame Robin must be paired with the "Smoke Robin"? For centuries, long before Europeans became aware of America and the superficially similar red-breasted bird that lived there, E. rubecula was known as redbreast/Robin redbreast/Robin, and only became the European Robin in the late 20th century when British Birds and the BOU standardised and internationalised British bird names (in my view mistakenly, but that's a different issue!). It passed from being Robin to being (officially, though not in practice) European Robin, but never went through a phase of being the English Robin. The example you have given from Journeys Through Bookland uses "English robin" because it's an American book and is carefully pointing out that the "robin" in the poem is different from the "robin" familiar to its readers. Having said that, I happily concede that the poem in Journeys Through Bookland is called "The English Robin", and it is apparently by an English author, Harrison Weir. But it still does not sound like a formal name assigned by the poet - I hear it more as "[our very own delightful] English Robin", if you see what I mean - in other words, a descriptive (and rather jingoistic and twee) adjective. It would be interesting to see more instances of the phrase "English robin". Do you have any more? SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 07:23, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Please realize that the kind of proof you are requesting is impossible to ascertain based on any one usage of the term. The distinction of "English" being a simple adjective or being a common part of the name of the bird can only be suggested by quantity. If you'll only be convinced by numbers, here they are. These are links to Google Books that refer to this distinct species as the English Robin. I can provide more if necessary.
[2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]
Neelix (talk) 18:32, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks - and my conclusion from those examples is quite clear: the phrase "English robin" is used only when someone is drawing attention to the distinction between E. rubecula and T. migratorius or some other species to which the name "Robin" has been applied. "English" is used as an adjective to clarify the difference, to point unambiguously to the European species. It is not part of the bird's name. To demonstrate that it is part of the name, you would need to find a source which calls it English Robin in a context other than comparing with the American or some other Robin. Sorry. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 18:53, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
All of the following links make reference to the English Robin without mentioning the American Robin: ([12], [13], [14], [15], [16]). The same goes for two of the original references I made: Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden", her short story "My Robin". Even if these sources did make reference to the American Robin in conjunction with the English Robin, which they do not, English Robin is shown to be a proper name by virtue of the fact that these sources could easily have used the term "European" to distinguish from the American Robin, but did not. That it is mainly Americans who have called this species the English Robin is irrelevant. It was a commonly used name for the species and should be acknowledged as such on this article. Neelix (talk) 22:50, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

(←) You say these sources could easily have used the term "European"... Sorry, no. Nobody in the English-speaking world in the late 19th century would say "European Robin": the adjective that would come to mind to distinguish the bird from the American species would be "English", because it was an iconic bird in Britain but pretty much ignored elsewhere in Europe. Otherwise I'm happy to concede that you have some more convincing evidence. I'm still not fully swayed (I still think, stubbornly, that the adjective is only loosely attached to the noun, by different authors for various reasons, not locked on as part of the name) - but you seem to have enough there to add something to the effect that the bird quite frequently appears in literature as the "English Robin". Just don't make it seem that this is still (or ever was) a valid or accepted name for the species in ornithological/scientific/natural-history contexts. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 07:39, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

IMHO, "English" is a qualifier and anyone who uses it is either from outside the UK, attempting to communicate with someone from outside the UK or pandering/marketing to a mostly-outside-the-UK audience and acting on publisher's advice. Anyone inside the UK would be bemused/amused by its use. I'd be happy to see this information as an interesting historical footnote in the cultural section but, when I searched, I just looked for 'robin' on its own. EatYerGreens (talk) 16:02, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Behaviour section[edit]

Article reads: and have been observed attacking other small birds without apparent provocation. Such attacks sometimes lead to fatalities, accounting for up to 10% of adult bird deaths in some areas
Juxtaposing the concept of attacks on other species with a sentence using just the generic term 'bird' made me misinterpret this as "Robins are responsible for 10% of all adult bird deaths" (implying all species), on my first visit. I checked the cited source and the wording there is far less ambiguous about it being 10% of adult robins. I intend to edit this but will await page stability with regard to one of the above debates first. EatYerGreens (talk) 15:58, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

You're right. I have edited it (clumsily) to correct the factual error. Perhaps you can do some better wording. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 16:06, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

English robin[edit]

I don't mean to fan flames, but Francis Hodgkin Burnett (a British writer) also used English robin a lot. (e.g. My Robin, and it also appears in The Secret Garden. It's probably a Victorianism now, but it doesn't seem to have been merely American. Shoemaker's Holiday (talk) 17:55, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

I think this has been pretty well discussed, above, and indeed both those sources were mentioned. In My Robin, it's clear from the start of the text that it's a case of finding an adjective to distinguish the European species from the American, and, for an English writer at that date, the obvious word is English. So she says "An English robin differs greatly from the American one". The story is called "My Robin", not "My English Robin". English is not part of the bird's name. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 18:16, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
My tuppenceworth - I'm English, nearing 50 and I've never heard it called the 'English robin'. It's just the robin, pure and simple. On another subject: there is a lovely illustration of a robin in the early 15th century Sherborne Missal [17] (from Sherborne Abbey, now held in the British Library), which is annotated 'ruddocke'. Should a 'common names' section be added to the article? (talk) 10:06, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Also, Frances Hodgson Burnett, although born in Britain, moved to the US when she was 16 and lived there for most of her life, becoming an American citizen too. So she may well have used 'English' to differentiate between the two types of robin with which she was no doubt familiar. In general, Americans don't know the European robin as it is not native, and vice versa for the American robin in Europe. So her stating which one it was is understandable, as she was familiar with both, and is in no way representative of the use of 'English robin' as a norm in Europe/UK when referring to the robin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:59, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

"Were I a farmer, no gun ever should be fired on my premises at any bird save the English sparrow and the three bad hawks" — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:411:1600:226:8FF:FEDC:FD74 (talk) 15:16, 1 August 2016 (UTC)

Map Location[edit]

The map picture on the page, referring to the robin distribution I believe, should be corrected. According to it, the robin is not found across Portugal, when in fact is pretty common in the north of the country.

This source:, confirms it as being abundant to the north, adding that it can be seen in the center of the country as well (this part including the already 'green painted' area).

Is there anyway to update the map picture to correct this? I don't mind doing it myself, but I'm not sure how the licensing works, and whether I'm allowed the tamper with the image in question.

Thanks in advance. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:30, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

THIS and THIS photos maked in Crimea (Ukraine) in THIS SECTION at 29 of october 2011. So, you must include Crimea into map location. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:37, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

You can do anything you like to the image, as long as you keep the same licence. You can upload modified version either as a new version of the same image (same file name), or under a different name. Jimfbleak - talk to me? 10:53, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

File:Rouge gorge familier - crop (WB correction).jpg to appear as POTD[edit]

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European Robin
The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small insectivorous passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now considered to be a chat. Around 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 in) in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly.Photo: Pierre-Selim

Now the official national bird of the UK[edit]

Seems to be no mention of this, the vote was decided yesterday and is mentioned quite heavily in the British press. Can't add the update due to the article being locked. (talk) 17:32, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

It's not official by any means, although it did get a lot of press coverage, so I've added it with a reference. Keith the Koala (talk) 14:30, 13 June 2016 (UTC)

Also known as the: robin redbreast in Britain[edit]

NOT just 'simply the robin' as some have weirdly been proclaiming on the talkpage. Sigh. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:411:1600:226:8FF:FEDC:FD74 (talk) 02:00, 1 August 2016 (UTC)

File:Erithacus rubecula with cocked head.jpg to appear as POTD soon[edit]

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European robin
The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small insectivorous passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. Around 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 in) in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly. It is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa; it is sedentary in most of its range except the far north.Photograph: Francis C. Franklin

Robin in Frisian[edit]

I'll remove the references on "Robin" in Frisian, as I think the Oxford English Dictionary has it wrong. Evidence:

Treatment in mainland Europe[edit]

I've noticed this statement in the 'Behaviour' section for some years and am very surprised it has not been changed or redacted:

"Indeed, the robin is considered to be a gardener's friend and for various folklore reasons the robin would never be harmed. In continental Europe on the other hand, robins were hunted and killed as with most other small birds, and are more wary.[26]"

As any European-based birder will know from first-hand experience, robins behave in very much the same way in gardens here as they do in the UK and Ireland. Here in France, I've also seen references to the robin as the 'hunter's friend'. Such a bold and damning statement, made on the basis of one RSPB (i.e. British) book, seems to me to be the product of chauvinist sentiment alone. I will try to find some Wiki-suitable citation if necessary, but really, this sentence (the last of the two, above) should just be removed.

Glaciare (talk) 13:26, 9 March 2017 (UTC)Glaciare

Glaciare, I understand your point, but be careful not to make the same error, if it is, in reverse. Europe is a big place, and I suspect that the treatment of Robins in Malta or Cyprus may not be the same as in the Netherlands or Denmark. Jimfbleak - talk to me? 13:50, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
Jimfbleak Thanks for your reply. I take your point, but it actually reinforces my own, I think; one cannot extrapolate from the hunting behaviour of two islands to the whole population of Europe (and even in Malta, apparently, the younger generations are changing their ways, so we must beware of out-of-date information). Certainly in France - and I suspect other mainland countries where hunting has been popular - it has rarely been indiscriminate in terms of species. Moreover, robins are wary in the UK in summer and less shy in winter, just as they are everywhere else; the Collins Guide states as much in both the English and French versions, so even this part of the statement makes no sense (and it would be a huge stretch to claim wholesale 'wariness' as a product of past hunting anyway). In other words, the statement is sweeping, inaccurate and nonsensical and - to most Europeans, I would think - quite offensive. It's also not based on anything more than one British author's opinion. As such, I would think it has no place in a Wikipedia article. If no-one can come up with a reasonable rewording, I will delete it in the coming days. Glaciare (talk) 13:14, 11 March 2017 (UTC)Glaciare
Glaciare, I've no problem with that, just wanted to make sure that it wasn't replaced by another sweeping statement. In your edit summary, refer to this talk page so it's clear it's not a random removal of referenced content Jimfbleak - talk to me? 15:51, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

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European robin juvenile
The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small insectivorous passerine bird. Formerly classified as a member of the thrush family, it is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher. About 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 inch) in length, males and females are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly; the orange breast emerges gradually after birth, as with the juvenile specimen shown here. The species is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa; it is sedentary in most of its range except the far north. The unrelated American robin was named after it.Photograph: Charles J. Sharp