Robin Erithacus rubecula, perched on brocken plant pot with flowering sedum in garden. Co. Durham

Robin redbreast song

The robin is one of the few birds in the UK that sing all year round. This is due to the importance of holding winter territories.

Timings and triggers

Only for a short period in late summer while they are moulting and inconspicuous do robins stop singing. Both sexes sing. 

As with the nightingale, the song is usually delivered from a concealed perch within a bush or a tree exposed perches are infrequent. Autumn and spring songs are distinctly different. The autumn song starts after the moult, from late summer onwards. It is more subdued and melancholy in its tone, while the spring song is powerful, confident and upbeat. 

The spring song can start as early as mid-December, reaching full force in spring. Its purpose is two-fold: to defend a territory and to attract a mate. Therefore, spring song is far more powerful in males.

Robins are adapted to life in poor light and are often active in half-light when few other birds are about. They tend to be among the earliest birds to start the dawn chorus and one of the last to stop in the evening.

Street lights and floodlights can trigger singing in the middle of the night, and if roosting robins are disturbed, they can burst into song even in complete darkness.

Robin in snow