The United Kingdom is a country steeped in history, culture, and tradition. One of its most iconic symbols is its national bird. The national bird of the UK is the European robin, a small and charming bird that is widely recognized for its bright red breast and cheerful song.
The European robin, known scientifically as Erithacus rubecula, belongs to the family Turdidae, which includes thrushes and other similar birds. It is found throughout the UK and is a common sight in gardens, parks, and woodlands. The European robin is particularly associated with Christmas, where it is often depicted on cards and decorations, and it has long been a favorite of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
The origins of the European robin’s association with the UK are unclear, but it is likely that its popularity as a garden bird and its friendly and approachable nature played a role. The European robin has also been associated with a number of myths and legends over the centuries. For example, it is said that the European robin got its red breast by trying to remove the crown of thorns from Jesus’ head during the crucifixion, and that the bird’s breast was stained with the blood of Christ.
Despite its association with Christmas and its popularity with the British public, the European robin only became the official national bird of the UK in 1960. Prior to that, there was no official national bird, although the golden eagle and the grey heron had both been suggested.
The decision to make the European robin the national bird was made by the public through a poll conducted by the popular magazine “Birds” in 1960. Over 90,000 people took part in the poll, and the European robin received over 50% of the vote, beating the other contenders by a significant margin.
Since then, the European robin has become an important part of British culture and tradition. It is frequently depicted in art, literature, and music, and is a common subject for stamps, coins, and other official emblems. The European robin has also been adopted as the emblem of a number of organizations and institutions, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
In conclusion, the European robin is a much-loved and important symbol of the UK. Its association with Christmas, its friendly and approachable nature, and its popularity with the British public have all contributed to its status as the official national bird. Whether it is flitting through gardens and woodlands, or appearing on Christmas cards and decorations, the European robin is a familiar and beloved sight to millions of people in the UK and beyond.