I was home all day yesterday and managed to spend a few minutes in the garden, just taking in some fresh air. The sky was crystal clear and Little HTR was singing. I grabbed the camera and snapped away.
Little HTR has changed his behaviour over the past three days. His song is even louder and more tuneful than it has been since Christmas, when he started trying to attract a mate. He is also singing from new points. The usual territorial boundaries are still being used, but his song is also coming from areas within his territory. He even sings loudly when he's just a foot or two away from me at the kitchen door. This isn't the normal sub-song but loud singing. Another change is that over the past three days he has also started making the small squeaking noise usually associated with females calling for food. I should add that I have heard ditting coming from the holly tree while Little HTR has been 50 or more yards away and yesterday I saw a new Robin in the feeding area. Little HTR flew across from his distant post and burst into song from the apple tree next door. The other Robin hopped up into the same tree and both birds disappeared. I didn't see any chasing so I have no idea where they went.
Anyway, here are some photos of Little HTR singing from some new perches.
It was slightly windy as you can tell
You can see his pointed (first year) tail feathers in these photos
Back in the apple tree
Unicum arbustum haud alit duos erithacos
(One bush does not shelter two Robins)
Zenodotus (3rd Century B.C.)
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
Hopefully the mystery Robin is a female. This is Little HTR by the way. One of HTR's 2019 offspring (hence the pointy tail feathers).
Lot to learn
First pic of Mrs Little HTR
In reply to Gardenbirder:
Gardenbirder said:Fingers crossed for Little HTR, Paul. Is his song fairly elaborate? I read somewhere that they learn their songs from listening to other Robins and that their songs can improve with time or is that an old tale?
Yes, his song is fairly elaborate. Newly fledged Robins learn to sing from the adult male. In some cases I have been able to locate the youngsters by listening for the male and at least one will be nearby. In the 1896 book 'The Evolution of Bird Song' by Charles A Witchell, there are fascinating chapters on imitation and mimicry. Based on his research, he determined that baby Robins learn song from the least distant source. That might explain my own observation. I have previously reported the calls and song of other birds that I have heard within the song of my garden Robins. The most tuneful addition to the Robin song that I hear is that of the Goldfinch. My Robins also imitate Blue Tits, Great Tits, Starlings, House Sparrows and Dunnocks. I don't have that many regulars in the garden and these are the species that are here each day. Witchell listed 23 species that the Robin 'referenced' in its song. In one case, he heard the cries of six species in unbroken succession in the song of one Robin. Birds imitated included Blackbird, Coal Tit, Lark, Greenfinch, Hedge-accentor (Dunnock), Wood Warbler, House Sparrow, Yellow Bunting (which I assume is the Yellowhammer?), Common (Reed?) Bunting, Whitethroat and even Green Woodpecker. Some of these calls are memorised for six months or more, Witchell heard a Robin making the call of a Blackcap in January or the alarm call of a Redstart in February.
It's a fascinating subject.
Some pics of Little HTR on his new photo perch (a length of bamboo cane stuck in a flower pot). These were taken through the window of the kitchen door. If I open it I know he will fly across for waxies, so until he becomes less impatient, this will have to suffice.
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