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The Robin Redbreast

Every little boy and girl well knows this pretty little bird. His bright

eyes and rosy breast delight us even before we hear his lovely song. And

do you not remember that when the babes in the wood were left alone, to

die, by that cruel robber, after wandering about till they were so weary

that they lay down and slept the sleep of death, it was the Robin

Redbreast who "painfully did cover them with leaves." One would think
/> the robin must be very fond of little boys and girls. One thing I am

sure of, and that is that they love him very dearly, that they delight

in the very sound of his name, that they scatter crumbs upon the window

sill for him in winter, and that they would not disturb his nest for

all the world.

Robins are not very often to be seen in the summer, for they fly far

into the depths of woods and lonely places to rear their young. So

amongst the chorus of sweet singers who make melody when leaves are

green it is not very common to hear the voice of the robin, though he is

said to sing very constantly by the side of his mate, whilst she sits

upon her eggs or broods over her young ones. But in autumn, Robin comes

nearer the abode of man, and it is difficult then in country places to

skirt a field or wander in a lane, without seeing a brisk little bird

with ruby breast perched upon the hedgerow, pouring forth a sweet and

gentle song. This is the robin, and we love his notes all the more at a

time when few other birds still sing. Nay, even in the winter when, the

Nightingale and many other warblers have left our shores to spend the

chilly months in some warmer climate, the robin only draws nearer to our

homes, makes his abode in our gardens, pecks up the crumbs at our very

doors, nay, often finds his way into our houses, and rewards every

kindness shewn to him with the same sweet flood of song that he poured

forth amidst the woods in the days of summer. Many very pretty stories

are told of different robins who have been tamed by kindness until they

seemed to lose almost all that fear of man which is generally so

striking in birds.

"The birds of heaven before us fleet."

I have heard of one who came to live almost entirely in the chamber of a

sick gentleman, and grew very fond of ground rice pudding, which was a

favourite invalid dish. But the out-door feeding of robins is not so

dainty in general, and I am sorry to tell you that, by those who have

taken pains to watch robins, and study their wild habits, these birds

are found not only to prey on live worms, which is natural enough, but

also to spend much time and trouble to prepare the poor things for food,

in a way that must be any thing but agreeable to the victims. For the

robin does not eat the whole worm, only the outer skin, and, to get rid

of the inner part, Mr. Robin takes the worm in his bill and dashes it

about on a stone with great skill until he has effected his purpose. He

is also a very pugnacious bird; that is he is very fond of fighting, I

am sorry to tell you, but such is really the case. He will not allow

other robins to build in the same bush with him. He never joins himself

in friendly company with his fellows, and on occasion he can fight very

heartily: so heartily that a lady who writes much that is delightful, of

birds, and amongst them of robins, tells the following story. She was

once sitting with a family party, when a cat rushed in with two robins

in her mouth, which she had pounced upon in the garden whilst they were

engaged in such a desperate battle that they did not see their enemy at

hand. One head stuck out at each side of puss's mouth, but of course she

was instantly seized and forced to let go her prey, when both robins

flew away as if not much hurt. But for all this Robin Redbreast is a

very charming little fellow, and well deserves a warm place in your


Some years ago a pair of robins took up their abode in the parish church

of Hampton, in Warwickshire, and affixed their nest to the church Bible

as it lay on the reading desk. The vicar would not allow the birds to be

disturbed, and, therefore, provided another Bible. Another instance is

related where a clerk, in Wiltshire, found a robin's nest, containing

two eggs, under the Bible on the reading desk. The bird was not

disturbed, and laid four more, which were hatched in due season. The

cock-bird actually brought food in its bill and fed the young brood

during Divine service.