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Christmas card robins are even better in real life

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We all love getting robins on our Christmas cards. But the bonnie wee beasties are even better in real life.

Of all the birds in the garden, they are famously the friendliest. I wonder why this is. Hard-minded people say they just regard us as useful pigs that dig up the soil, unearthing worms and whatnot. But there’s more to it than that.

Birds fluff up when they’re happy. You can see it with your own eyes. Even dubious folk who delight in “nature red in tooth and  claw” can’t deny it. Birds are capable of feeling emotion, of joy.

The robin does. As blackbirds have done in the past. It’s odd how, while all robins seems friendly, often this is the case with just one individual from another species.

I’ve had blackbirds who pay me no heed to at all. The current one doesn’t skedaddle far at my approach, but doesn’t greet me with a “Hey, Rab!” either. I often hear him making contented clucking sounds in the background.

Rab McNeil.

He appreciates that I leave him berries and dig up a goodly amount of soil. I don’t rip out bushes or trees and concrete everything over.

There used to be a friendly female blackbird in the garden, but she disappeared, probably eaten by a cat (about four round here). Of all the finches, only one comes nearly as close as the robin when the vittles are being bunged forth.

Overhead, among the local band of crows, there’s one that often perches on telegraph poles and almost talks. You get the impression he’s brighter than the other guys and frustrated at his lot.

The robin doesn’t say much to my face, but trills away merrily at other times. Sometimes, I think he just wants company, particularly if he hangs around or returns after he’s had his two suet (with berries) pellets. He usually ignores the third and more, as I think that’s him stuffed.

If I bung him a third pellet, he says: “Ah dinnae want any mair grub, thanks, Rab. Ah jist want tae sit here an’ gawp at ye, ken? Sometimes, when I’m working by the reading light, I look out at the big shrub outside, and he’s sitting there on a branch peering in.

Maybe he’s thinking: ‘I hope Rab’s not writing about me. If so, I’ll tell him firmly that I’ve no comment to make.’ He seems a merry enough wee soul and, yes, I know, they’re aggressive to other birds and even his own kind, though I’ve seen him being chased off himself.

They’re all at it. The blackbird chases off the thrush. The crows, on their few visits when they think I’m not around, chase everything away. Hawks, evil from the skies, cause a chilling silence to descend all around. But, luckily, these disturbing visits are few and far between.

Why tempt birds into the garden? Well, birdsong is a beautiful thing. It never seems right when there isn’t any. And it’s good to have some life about the place.

Deer come in from time to time, a hedgehog, mice, and cats of course. But the birds are pretty much fixtures and, often a great source of cheer.

Speaking of which, a very merry Christmas, when it comes, to all readers from Rab and his robin.

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