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Do Robins Recognise Humans?

July 1, 2022
a magpie that inspired the magpie rhyme singing in a tree
a robin looking at humans

Do you ever step outside and feel like somebody’s watching you? If you have robins nesting in your area, chances are these affectionate and chirpy little birds are watching you. And, when you’re under their gaze daily, it’s easy to wonder, ‘do robins recognise humans?’

While it is not inconceivable to believe that local birds will notice humans as they go about their day, some experts believe that robins detect these occurrences and can differentiate one human from another. So let’s find out the truth! 

Do Robins Recognise Humans?[i] 

a robin looking to recognise humans

The simple answer to this question is YES! Robins can recognise humans. For the most part, robins recognise a human’s traits, such as the way they move, walk and even facial features. For the most part, though, robins closely follow your schedule and movements, especially when food is involved. 

Robins aren’t the only birds that recognise humans. Many other wild birds also pay close attention to their human neighbours. Birds such as magpies, crows and mockingbirds can also identify people. However, robins being friendly and a little curious means they pay very close attention to the humans in their neighbourhood.  

Why Is A Robin Following Me?

Robins are opportunistic feeders and often follow larger animals hoping to find food. These cute little birds hover around in the hopes that a large mammal will disturb the soil and reveal a few tasty grubs and insects for them to feast on. When it comes to humans, they may hang around as you dig up your garden beds or to see when you toss kitchen scraps onto the compost pile. Perhaps you like to eat outside, which will attract local robins’ attention to see if pieces of anything you’re eating will fall to the ground so they can swoop in for a snack. 

Most notably, if a robin perceives you as a friend and not a predator, they’ll likely follow you until you get inside the house or the car. And, if you often leave food out for them, you can expect these cute little songbirds to be a frequent companion.

How To Encourage Robins To Your Garden

a robin waiting to feed

In many cultures, having birds as frequent visitors to your garden is a sign of luck. Even if you aren’t into superstitions, there is no denying that having birds in your garden is charming, exciting and soothing for the soul. Robins, in particular, are also a little curious and friendly, so once you get on their good side, you can expect to enjoy their company regularly. 

Here are some things you can do to entice robins into your garden:

Leave out food – Robins, like all birds, love to eat and need to do so to survive. The best way to encourage robins into your garden is to put food out for them. While you can scatter a variety of seeds on the ground, keep in mind that robins also eat insects, fruit and a few other choice foods. Setting bird feeders is the best option, especially if you can put the feeder on a tall stand or hang it from a tree. The higher up they are, the less they are at risk of being snared by a stalking predator like a cat. Add a variety of seeds to the feeders and give them a special treat of suet fat balls, which they’ll love during colder months when most of the worms and bugs are hibernating. 

Turn soil over regularly – If you have a garden or compost pile, turn the soil over regularly. This will expose worms and insects under the ground, making it easier for robins to find food, and the softer soil also makes it easier for the robins to scratch the surface in search of food. 

Plant berries – Robins love soft fruits such as berries, so if you have the space, plant some strawberries, raspberries, mulberries or blackberries. Plant enough, and you can supply enough for robins and yourself. 

Set up bird nesting boxes – While robins need to eat, they also need to breed. When we clear land, many birds lose their natural habitat, which means fewer safe places to nest. Put a few bird nesting boxes around your garden and let these little birds move in. 

Keep cats indoors – Robins are small birds and often fall prey to domestic cats. Therefore, whenever possible, keep your cats indoors. 

Looking Out For Robins

The robin is an adorable, charming bird with a beautiful, uplifting singing voice. If you don’t pose a threat to them and give them the food they need to flourish, you may even be able to entice these little birds to come closer and eat from your hands. Once you can do this, there really is no doubt that the answer to ‘do robins recognise humans’ is an unequivocal yes, especially their favourite ones! 




  • Gemma Sharp is the resident writer for Garden Wildlife Direct, a supplier of premium bird food and accessories. She has had a genuine love for our feathered friends from a young age, and has dedicated a lot of her time to learning all there is to know about them. If you're struggling to pick the right bird feed for your garden, need help identifying a type of wild bird, or can't decide where to put a nesting box, Gemma is the person to go to! She is passionate about sharing her years of learnt knowledge with the public. In her free time, she can be found feeding birds at home with her three young boys.

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