Specimen of the month – December 2012


Robin – Pitiross  Erithacus rubecula

Cold, wet and long nights characterize the month of December. This is also the month when out of our closets emerge the Christmas tree and lights. It is that time when we start seeing flashing lights in our balconies while behind the antiporta there is usually the traditional presepju (crib). One of the most significant bird associated with this time of the year is the robin , many a Christmas card depict this small chubby red-breasted bird heralding the seasons’ greetings and the coming New Year.

In Malta, robins start arriving in mid-September but it is only from the second week of October that large numbers pass through our islands. Many keep moving south towards Africa but a significant number spends the winter months in the Mediterranean, including the Maltese Islands. The characteristic tick-tick-tick call and its melodious call are heard from every garden in rural and urban areas. Robins are highly territorial and studies have shown that wintering birds return each year to the same spot. By the end of March most of the robins would have left the islands but a few individuals remain here throughout the summer months. One or two live robins can be seen in the front courtyard of the museum while a specimen is displayed in the bird’s hall inside the museum.

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