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Stuff the turkey, fatten the robins

Last modified: 22 December 2008

Robin on snowy branch

Image: Richard Bradbury

Imagine if you could gorge yourself completely guilt-free this Christmas and it was actually necessary for your survival.

Well, that is exactly the case for everyone’s favourite festive bird, the robin.

Robins need to eat almost half their body weight every single day to survive this winter and they need YOUR help.

Incredibly, a tiny young robin will devour as much as 14 feet of earthworms each day, and an average of two per hour.

Difficult times

But December is one of the harshest months for wildlife with natural food sources in our countryside and gardens in short supply.

Finding worms and other insects will be a challenge for all garden birds as the weather turns colder and the ground becomes hard and impenetrable.

'The food that we leave out in our gardens could even be the difference between life and death.'

The food that we leave out in our gardens will substitute the natural food and could even be the difference between life and death.

The RSPB is urging everyone to spare a thought for robins and other garden birds this winter and put out seed and nuts, kitchen scraps and water.

Lee Hollingsworth, an RSPB wildlife adviser, says: 'Its incredible that such small, fragile creatures as robins survive at all as it gets really cold – especially as they need to feed themselves more or less all day long.

'A couple of days of bitter cold and ice-covered ground is enough to kill many birds.

Lend a helping hand

'Garden birds are in a constant battle to find food at this time of year so by putting food out in your garden you are greatly increasing their chances of survival.'

Unlike mammals, who can store fat for extreme conditions, birds have to eat enough every day to make it through a cold night.

At daybreak their energy supply is at its lowest and birds immediately have to start filling up again to survive.

Robins and other garden birds will take all sorts of food from feeding stations and kitchen scraps, particularly meaty ones like fat, cheese and cake will all be enjoyed.

How you can help

If you want to help the birds twice over by knowing you’re feeding top quality foods and using products overseen by our experts, RSPB Bird Care is for you.

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