A friendly little Kilkenny robin is proving the wonder of nature this spring. The little bird has 'adopted' a Kilkenny man and meets him for breakfast every morning!
The little bird is nesting in a shed in the town and is now great friends with Eugene McSweeney.
Eugene first noticed the robins in his garden last April. He saw two robins going in and out of his garage so he left the door open for them. Later he noticed a nest and then four eggs. The robins reared four chicks there last May.
Fast forward to this spring and his little friends are back. Eugene was feeding other birds in his garden over the winter then just after Christmas he noticed the two robins in the hedge by his shed. He started putting food out for them and as time past they would get closer to him. Then one morning one of the robins hopped on to a bowl he was holding to feed.
Last Monday he was going into his shed when one of the robins flew in ahead of him. He took a chance and offered her some food from his hand and she hopped on to his finger. Eugene said he couldn't believe it. Now it has become their morning ritual. When Eugene hears the robin singing outside he puts some food in his hand and she has something to eat before flying off again.
Eugene described the amazing feeling of the little bird landing on his finger and her little claws tightening for balance as amazing.
The birds have nested in his shed again this year and have made a cosy home in half empty 'slab' of beer cans.
It has been shown that many migrating robins are faithful to both their summer and winter territories, which may be many hundreds of kilometres apart.
Robins eat a wide variety of food, including worms, seeds, nuts, suet, invertebrates and fruit. They’ll readily come to garden bird tables, especially in winter, and a combination of suet, mealworms and seeds will go down particularly well.
If the weather is mild, they can breed as early as January, though it is more usual for them to start in March. Robins are prolific breeders, often producing between three and five broods a year, each containing four or five eggs.
In Ireland and the UK robins are well known for being 'friendly' with gardeners, but elsewhere in Europe they are shy and retiring birds of thick woodland cover. In the UK, this confiding nature has existed for many centuries – the first record of a robin taking food from a human was in the 6th century.