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( Originally Published 1894 )
The Robin Redbreast is a prime favourite in English cottage homes. Its appearance on the window sill at the approach of winter is an irresistible appeal to human sympathy and seldom fails of a hearty response. Captain Brown mentions a robin which, during a severe storm, came to the window of the room where his father sat, upon which his father opened the window, to give it some crumbs. "Instead of flying away, the robin hopped into the room, and picked the crumbs from the floor. His father, being very fond of animals, took great pleasure in taming this bird, and so completely succeeded, that it would pick small pieces of raw flesh and worrns from his hand, sat on the table at which he wrote, and, when the day was very cold, perched. upon the fender. When a stranger entered, it flew to the top of a door, where it perched every night. The window was frequently opened to admit air, but the robin never offered to go away. As the spring advanced, and the weather became fine, it flew away every morning, and returned every evening, till the time of incubation arrived, and it then flew away altogether. At the next fall of the year it again asked for admittance, and behaved exactly in the same manner as before. It did this a third time, but when it flew away the ensuing spring, it was never seen again." Robins have been known to build their nests in queer places. Mrs. Bowdich tells of one which attached its nest to the Bible of the parish church of Hampton, Warwickshire, and of others which built theirs on the reading desk of a church in Wiltshire and deposited six eggs in it.
The Robin is an intelligent little bird and some pretty stories are told of its sagacity. Mrs. Bowdich mentions a gardener who was in the service of a friend of hers, who having made a pet of a robin, was one day much struck with the uneasiness of his little friend, and concluding that he wanted assistance followed him to his nest, which occupied a flower pot, when he discovered that a snake had coiled itself round the little home. Happily the gardener was in time to save the birds though at the snake's expense. In "The Gardener's Chronicle" there is a story, quoted by Mrs. Bowdich, of a robin which having been caught young and kept with a nightingale, learned the nightingale's song so perfectly as to be indistinguishable in performance.