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Did you know that a robin’s song changes depending on the season?

Robins are known as vocal birds, with both males and females singing all year round. This accompanies their territorial nature, as they fight to maintain plentiful winter feeding grounds. Less well known is that how they sing in spring and summer varies greatly to autumn and winter.

Summer has come and passed…

As summer ends, the robin’s song becomes noticeably less upbeat and somewhat plaintive. The summer song doesn’t return until the winter is over, sometimes not until February or March in Britain.

Seasonal song variation has been subject to much debate in the scientific community, with the most likely explanation being photoperiod – a response to the amount of daylight the birds get.

Changes to the amount of light in a day are thought to result in hormonal stimulations that affect the area of their brain that controls vocalisation.

Late to bed, early to rise

Robins are fondly associated with the winter period as during the darker, colder seasons they are often the last birds to remain singing into dusk, and also the first birds to begin singing at the dawn chorus.

This year-round singing and their bright red colouring gives them personality and an aura of stoicism that makes them stand out from other songbirds, making them a popular festive species.

You can see this seasonal behaviour in some of our parks and gardens, just keep your eyes – and ears! – open.

By Hugh Smith, Wildlife Officer at The Royal Parks

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