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When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbing along ...

In December it's fun to spot robins in the garden, says biodiversity and bird protection charity LPO

Robins' cheeky antics on the bird-table combined with their status as festive icons makes them doubly welcome in December. Male and female robins (known – appropriately enough as "rouge-gorges" in French) are almost identical, with orange breasts, grey-brown upper parts and a cream belly.

They live in gardens all year round but are easier to spot in the winter.

They are relatively unafraid of people but can be wary of humans in France, as they were traditionally hunted and killed in many parts of the country.

They will often come to supervise digging, and eat earthworms of any other tasty morsels turned up by the spade.

In the same way, they often follow the activities of sanglier (wild boar) as they turn up the soil. Robins eat invertebrate insects and spiders, as well as worms, and will supplement this with seeds and berries in the winter.

To encourage them into the garden, try putting some grated cheese on the bird table, along with some sunflower kernels, live mealworms and suet sprinkles(a specialist bird mix containing suet and seeds).

It is best to put out a small amount every day rather than a lot all at once, which will go stale and attract rats.

You will have to be content with only a single pair of robins however, as they are extremely territorial and will chase off invading males, even fighting them to the death. Once they get to know their humans, they will rapidly become very tame, and will literally eat from your hand.

Robins are opportunistic nesters, and will build on almost anything, a ledge, a crevice, a discarded kettle - anywhere which offers a little shelter. Their nests are made of moss, leaves and grass lined with hair and feathers. They lay two or three clutches of five to six eggs each, which can be cream, buff or white, speckled with red-brown blotches, especially at the larger end.

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