Flowers as national emblems will be in vogue for a lot of centuries, but it’s only recently that the concept of a national bird for every country originates into fashion. When British public opinion was assessed by letters to the Press, the robin easily topped the poll. But the answer had been available with no such testing, for the robin had sometime ago established its position by
the unique character of their name.
Tom Tit, Jenny Wren, Jack Daw and Magpie all carry some suggestion of human interest and affection, but Robin (Redbreast) is the only one whose ‘Christian’ name is enough by it.
The robin itself might put the matter the other way round and state that it chose the British people, for the affinity which the robin shows for human society is really a peculiarity of the British race-Continental robins mostly are shy forest-dwellers, along with other species dominate the duties of crumb-gleaner and assistant gardener performed by the British robin.
In other respects also the robin is exclusive, for not only do both cock and hen sing, however they do so almost the whole all year round, apart from a brief lull in July. Both cock and hen also, after the summer moult, occupy individual territories, that they warn off others of the kind by song (often at its very best in autumn), fights and chases.
This territorial pugnacity, following right after the maturity of the young, is without a doubt the basis of the old fable that young robins wipe out the old ones every year. But even without such drastic measures, a robin’s expectation of every day life is short-probably around one . 5 years.
Few apparently die of senior years (the occasional known five-year-old is really as spry as ever), but the robin is accident-prone along with a violent death from car, cat, mouse-trap or motor-mower is a very common end. It’s been suggested that the very boldness and inquisitiveness of the robin leads it to consider risks, despite cats and machinery.