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The European female robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small garden bird, almost identical to the male in shape and colour. They are one of the most beautiful and common birds in the UK and are seen all over England, but they are prevalent in the countryside.

Female robins usually look like their male counterpart, but there can be some small differences between them. In this article, female robins will be specifically discussed, including topics such as the characteristics, behaviour, and the main differences between the two sexes.

What Does a Female Robin Look Like?

I often get asked the question, “do female robins have a red breast?”

Yes, female robins have red breasts with a yellow throat and white belly. They also have black wing tips and a patch of yellow on their head that can be seen when they are perching on a tree branch.

The female robin bird is usually brown to reddish-brown with some white feathers around the shoulder area. Some species of females can be dark yellowish-brown to white plumaged instead of a brown one.

The females usually look darker compared with the male robin, even though they are the same species. Females can be distinguished by their smaller size, fewer red feathers around their neck, and lighter red breast.

On top of its head is brown hair that stands upright. This is where it gets the nickname “red-breasted chippie”, which means little red-breasted bird.

A female robin
A female robin, with a brown set of feathers and dark bill

The Difference Between Male and Female Robins

The difference between the two robins are not always easy to identify, but they are present.

Female robins are often brownish to olive-brown or very dark grey but can be spotted with lighter feathers. The female robin possesses a reddish-orange breast which is spotted with black markings, while the male robin has a solid red breast. Males also have a brighter coloured bill to distinguish them from the female sex.

Physically speaking, females are smaller than males; they measure around 5 inches long, whereas males are about 6 inches long.

Male and female robins sometimes share the same colouration of their chest but females tend to have more spots on their breasts compared to a male robin who would typically have none at all.

Also, male and female robins can be differentiated by looking at their wing area too. Females possess longer wings that extend to their tails, while males have a white crescent-shaped marking on the top of their wings.

A male robin
A juvenile male robin with a light coloured bill

Do Male Robins Change Colour?

Male robins do not change their colour (reds) during the mating season; it is only the females that do so.

Female Robin Song

Both male and female robins sing, but female songs tend to be more cheery and bright. Female robins make a chirping, whistling noises such as chip-chip and chip-chip, whereas when a male robin sings, it’s usually sharp and harsh.

Robin bird is on table

Behaviour Of Female Robins

During breeding season, the fiercely territorial bird commonly spends its time in trees and bushes in its natural habitats. They will often sit high in the trees alongside males and perch on a branch to keep watch for predators such as cats or foxes.

Mating Period Of Female Robins

The mating season lasts between March and May. Once a male and female robin have mated, the female remains mostly monogamous for life. They will try to nest in the same spot all year round, so mating is only when they are ready.

These common garden birds make small nests of grass or twigs in tree stems and holes in walls and then line them with feathers. They generally lay 3-5 eggs in their nests during this period. European robin eggs are pale cream with reddish speckles on top of them.

Three baby robins in a nest wanting the mother bird to come and feed them
Three baby robins in a nest

Where Can You See Them?

The European female robin bird is most common in the United Kingdom, especially in England. They are most commonly found in deciduous woodland areas where there are plenty of berries to eat. You’ll also find them in gardens and parks and are occasionally spotted feeding their young who are just learning how to fly.

Sources and References

  1. How Can You Tell Male and Female Robins Apart? – birdspot.co.uk
  2. Robin Identification, Habitat & Nesting Habits – arkwildlife.co.uk

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