Birdlore: Robin Redbreast

Will the Red Red Robin be soon a bobbin along? Depending on where you live the sighting of a Robin is a sign of Spring. I don’t know about you but it seems old man winter doesn’t wish to leave us sometime soon. This makes for a long winter and spring birds excite us when we spot them, then we know for sure that Spring has sprung.

robin free domain

Robins have been pictured on UK Christmas cards, because in the past the British postmen wore red jackets and were nicknamed ‘Robins’, so they appear in their bird form as a icon of the deliverymen.

robin postman


According to folklore the wren stole fire from heaven and returned to earth aflame, so the other birds all gave one feather each to replace the burnt feathers but the Robin was nervous and came too close to the poor wren thus he also caught fire, the remains of the burnt chest is still a symbol of this event today.

If you harm a robin’s nest, you will be struck by lightning. There is also an old saying “Kill a robin or a wren, never prosper folks.”

A robin entering the house foretells of a death to come.

Another folk legend reports, if a Robin dies in your hand, that hand will always shake uncontrollably.

“‘How badly you write,’ I said one day to a boy in our parish school; your hand shakes so that you can’t hold the pen steady. Have you been running hard, or anything of that sort?’ ‘No,’ replied the lad, ‘it always shakes: I once had a robin die in my hand; and they say that if a robin dies in your hand, it will always shake.”

C A Federer – Notes and Queries April 4th 1868.


Myths of the Robin Redbreast in Early English Poetry at

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