(c) José Luís Barros
A public survey campaign which the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (ASPB) has organized to name a bird symbolizing 2013 in Armenia is over. The competition included candidate bird species such as Cinereous Vulture, European Robin, Armenian Gull, European Goldfinch, Common Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt, European Roller, Common Swift, Great Crested Grebe and Eastern Rock Nuthatch.
Public survey began in the middle of October and was available online via ASPB’s webpage where participants voted for "their" candidate and by polling on ASPB’s Facebook page. Because of the lack of internet availability in some regions voting sheets were also made available to the public.
A total of 1329 people from both Yerevan and different marzes of Armenia voted in the competition. In online voting the competition was particularly strong between the Cinereous Vulture and the European Robin, while summary of the results of paper-based voting (sheets) suggested the fight went strong between the European Robin, European Goldfinch and Cinereous Vulture. The bird that received the highest number of all votes – 258, the European Robin has been named a Bird of 2013 Year in Armenia.
The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small perching bird with an orange-red breast and face, olive-brown wings and back, and a white to light-brown belly. It can be found throughout many parts of Armenia. The adult European Robin is 15.0 - 16.0 cm long and weighs 16–18 g, with a wingspan of 20–22 cm. European Robins inhabit humid broadleaved and mixed forest, open woodlands, city parks and gardens, rural landscapes and small towns. In Yerevan this bird can be seen by those who frequent into Victory Park, Botanical Garden and Yerevan Zoo in spring and summer or walk down the Hrazdan River.
Traditionally Robins are known to build their nests on land, in a well-sheltered location such as a shrubby thicket, low-growing trees or densely vegetated undergrowth. They are relatively unafraid of people and are very curious. Their nest is cup-shaped and is constructed out of leaves and grass placed on moist ground by water. Robins feed on insects, earthworms, small beetles and snails. In autumn they will supplement their usual diet with berries, fruits and seeds, while in winter they will also eat seed mixtures placed on bird-tables. Research has shown that Robins deliver food to their young over 300 times a day, whereby they provide a great economic benefit to the environment by hunting and killing diverse insect pests. That is why it is important to attract Robins in the city parks and gardens, feed them in winter and protect their breeding habitats. One of the main threats to Robins in Armenia is a commercial logging of trees and removal of their habitats, a continuing reduction in green zones and old city parks which are often displaced by newly built residential complexes, cafes, restaurants and other similar buildings usually paired with high noise levels. Hence, the population of Robins in Armenia may have reduced over the past 10 years.
Known for their quite aggressive behavior, Robins have been rarely seen to attack other members of their species that stray into their territories, even when such attacks lead to fatalities and deaths of other Robins. Interestingly, Robin is a diurnal bird and has been even reported to be active on moonlit nights, which is evidenced by its large, black eyes. On long summer nights Robin’s song can be heard all night long.
The “Bird of the Year” campaign aims to raise public awareness about Armenia’s birds and the need to conserve their habitats. In 2013 the program will hold various educational events with a purpose to introduce the European Robin, interesting events with participation of students, schoolchildren and local communities, contests. During this campaign promotional products (posters, calendars, booklets, stickers) will be made available to the public to increase their specific knowledge about this little fascinating bird.
We are glad to name the European Robin a Bird of 2013 Year in Armenia!