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I met this little guy on the Fife coastal path near Kinghorn today. Such a little poser! And so bold, I got right up close. Really made my day. rhiaro.co.uk/2021/01/met-littl

@rhiaro You realise He thinks you're a pig?

More specifically, Robins evolved to be relaxed around large clumsy mammals because they made their living following boars and other such creatures, nipping in to pick up worms and seeds as they dug up roots, etc.

@edavies @rhiaro Yet, they know that humans in Ireland, Britain, and the other islands hereabouts are friendly, whereas the ones on continental Europe are much, much more wary of humans. Because we've had tabboos about harming Robins, whereas they were hunted sometimes elsewhere.
I don't buy the "humans as pigs" thing, I reckon they know a human from a pig from a dog. They also seem to know a "human with a shovel" from a regular run-of-the-mill human, once they've seen the results 😁

@cathal @edavies haaaa amazing! I am content with my life as a pig from a robin's perspective. It's interesting you mention they're generally friendly in the UK though - the ones I've met recently have been much more skittish. My brother has been failing to get close enough to one with his fancy camera for weeks. (and obviously we were out without his camera yesterday!)

@rhiaro @edavies They get to know people quickly enough, so if they start to associate you with tasty bugs or worms they ought to get tamer quickly. Unless they've had bad relations with humans in the past, or it might just be their personality.
Our ones are very tame by nature and got to know us quickly, and local robins in the tourist-heavy park even perch on strangers, but in other places not that far away they always keep their distance. Seems really regional.

@cathal @edavies @rhiaro any other birds which have 'cultural protection' in 'celtic' lands? Ravens, magpies?

@douginamug @edavies @rhiaro Druids used to think Birds could be used to predict the future, so there was magic there for certain. But I don't know if any were considered Holy in antiquity. In modern times, only Robins seem to have a special position of love, any more than people regularly love songbirds. Robins are seen by some as a sort of psychopomp, representing dead loved ones.
For some reason, in near-premodern times, we really fucking hated Wrens. I dunno why wrens.

@douginamug @edavies @rhiaro There's still a tradition in parts called "The Wren" where people dress in something that looks, but is not at all, like Blackface, and go door to door singing a song about killing wrens and demanding payment for killing wrens.
In the mythology of birds it was felt that the Wren had cheated in a contest for the kingship over birds (IIRC, the Eagle should have won) and _that's just classic wren, little prick bird that he is_
But why the Wren? 😓

@cathal @edavies @rhiaro Oh, that's a bit grim!

Reminds me tangentially of Mao's 4 Pests campaign which I only recently heard about en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Pes where Mao ordered everyone to eliminate Sparrows and it ended up causing crop failure and they had to import sparrows from Russia/USSR!

@douginamug @edavies @rhiaro Ow wow, I had heard of the campaign and the famine but not the bit at the end about sheepishly reintroducing the Sparrows again..
Puts me in mind of Squirrels, which are commonly thought to be pests of forest trees like Oaks, eating all their seeds. But the conflicting account is more like "Oaks make big tasty seeds so Squirrels will bury them far away - Squirrels are essential ecosystem engineers of forests"
Huh, better keep them around then

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