How the robin came by its red breast (013)

Almost everyone has a soft spot for the robin. Such a brave little ball of fluff with a red breast. Did you know that this small bird got its red breast when it tried to ease Christ’s pain on the cross? Listen to this Christian tale full of compassion:

During the first days of creation when God made the animals there were not enough suitable parts for so many new creations. So sometimes the solutions were make do. Hence why the pig got a strange little pink curly tail, because there were no more fine-looking tails left. The rabbit, for instance, had to make do with a strange small bit of white fluff on his backside.
Even the paint began to run out. As a result of which birds were initially decorated with splendid colour combinations, but as time passed the colours became increasingly less dramatic. When it was the turn of one small bird with a round stomach, very spindly legs and a sharp beak, all that remained was a bit of brown paint. For this reason that little creature was named the ‘little brown bird’.  Its brown colour meant that it was often never even noticed while it flitted around in the brushwood searching for small insects. These little brown birds were far from pleased with their dull brown appearance – they wanted to look striking too.

One day, about 2,000 years ago, one of the brown birds was perched on the branch of a tree when it saw Jesus being pulled through the streets of Jerusalem, bent under the weight of a heavy cross. A crown of thorns pierced His head making it bleed. The small brown bird felt sorry for Him and flew down. To ease the pain a little it plucked out a thorn from His head. On the thorn was a drop of blood which fell onto the breast of the small bird. That red stain is there to this day.  As thanks for the efforts of that one small brown bird to ease Christ’s suffering, all the small brown birds, male and female, were given a red breast by God. They are so pleased with their fine red breast, that they always proudly fluff it up as if to say to onlookers, ”Look at just how beautiful I am!” It was the striking colour of this bird’s breast that lead to people referring to it as the “redbreast”. The robin has became one of the most well-known and well-loved of all birds.

Robins are always up and about early, though a little later than the blackbird. In the early morning dawn its clear flowing sounds can be easily heard. If you listen very carefully, you can hear them still quietly muttering about how pleased they are with their little red breasts.   

Robins are solitary birds, living on their own in their own territory outside of the brooding season. Other robins are seen firmly off. Likewise, other small birds which eat the same food, such as the hedge sparrow and wren, are chased away. While everyone is fond of the robin, they are extremely aggressive when it comes to defending their territory and will fight till blood is drawn, if need be. On a more romantic note, it is one of the few birds which quietly sings its clear flowing song all year round. Another special thing about the robin is that both male and female robins sing. Many of our robins leave in the autumn to fly south. Their counterparts from the far north then take over their territory. Another interesting fact is that young robins do not at first have a red breast.


© Els Baars,
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Els Baars