Autumn is here and winter is approaching… So says the red-breasted robin

Was cutting the grass at the front of the house this afternoon when out of the bush appeared a plump bird with fine, large eyes, a bright orange-red breast, face, throat and cheeks edged with grey, a whitish belly and brown upper parts – the Robin Red-Breast. This sweet, cheering friend has been nesting in the holly bush for three consecutive years. She is quite protective, and I guess the clamor of the lawn-mower had her checking out what I was doing.  Known as the gardener’s friend, robins are quite unafraid of people and like to come close when anyone is digging the soil in order to look out for juicy earthworms and other food freshly turned up.

….and so autumn is here….

The first deceased leaves, soon to be falling all around in golden splendour, are already dry and crisp underfoot; darker evenings are drawing in, and a cool breeze portends the arrival of autumn. Yet, none more so then the jolly music of the Robin Red-Breast, the autumn singer.

While in spring and summer her voice is lost in the cacophony of other birds, it is in autumn that her sweet song is clear.  It is also in autumn when the robin recovers her shedded red breast, a gesture to the approach of winter.

Robin Red-breast

“Good-bye, good-bye to Summer!

For Summer’s nearly done;

The garden smiling faintly,

Cool breezes in the sun;

Our Thrushes now are silent,

Our Swallows flown away,

But Robin’s here, in coat of brown,

With ruddy breast-knot gay.

Robin, Robin Redbreast,

O Robin dear!

Robin singing sweetly

In the falling of the year.


Bright yellow, red, and orange,

The leaves come down in hosts;

The trees are Indian Princes,

But soon they’ll turn to Ghosts;

The scanty pears and apples

Hang russet on the bough,

It’s Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,

‘Twill soon be Winter now.

Robin, Robin Redbreast,

O Robin dear!

And welaway! my Robin,

For pinching times are near.


The fireside for the Cricket,

The wheatstack for the Mouse,

When trembling night-winds whistle

And moan all round the house;

The frosty ways like iron,

The branches plumed with snow, —

Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,

Where can poor Robin go?

Robin, Robin Redbreast,

O Robin dear!

And a crumb of bread for Robin,

His little heart to cheer.

                                                                                    By William Allingham (1824-1829)

[William Allingham, born at Ballyshannon, Ireland., published and edited verse from 1850 to his death in London on November 18, 1889.  He was buried in St. Anne’s Church cemetery, Ballyshannon]

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