The Magnificent British Garden Robin - exclusive Q&A with the author



18th March 2021

New Publication



Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to announce today the publication of a new book that I’ve had a hand in. It's called THE MAGNIFICENT BRITISH GARDEN ROBIN. Authored by the distinguished A.Robin, Esq. and illustrated by me, it’s an exposé of a typical year in the precarious life of the UK’s favourite garden bird. Here is the full-cover spread in all its splendidly retro, art-deco styling.
spread of the cover of a book, front and back, art deco style
Full-cover spread
Meanwhile, the blurb on the back cover will explain things in a little more detail ...

Why are robins such friendly birds? What exactly do they eat? And where do they like to build their nests? Is the robin’s reputation for promiscuity at all justified? And do they really sing because they’re happy?
These and many more intriguing questions are answered in this unique volume. Entertaining, informative and forthright. The ultimate guide - in his own words - to one of Britain’s most cherished garden residents.
Authored by A. Robin, Esq.
Illustrated by Robert Stephen Parry

Even better: to mark the event, I've managed a few days ago to schedule an extensive Q & A session with the author himself. The full and unabridged transcript of this now follows, accompanied by some screenshots from inside the book itself.

two champagne glasses clinking in celebration

Q)  

Welcome to Endymion, Robin, and thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions regarding your new book. Shall we begin?

A)  

All right - providing all this doesn't go on for too long. I get very hungry after a while just standing around. A robin has to consume at least a quarter of its own body weight in food every day. Did you know that? Even more in winter. That’s why I always seem to be pecking away at things.
screen shot of open pages of a book with caption left and illustration right

Q)

   Yes, I recall reading that in your book, as a matter of fact. It really is full of lots of fascinating details about what robins eat. Quite a variety of things, it would appear?

A)   

That's right - though it all depends on the season. Spiders, berries, worms, beetles - all kinds of invertebrates and wriggly things. Though nothing too large, of course. We are, after all, only tiny birds. And some of those big spiders can give you a nasty nip if they know your coming after them.
screen shot of open pages of a book with illustration

Q)  

Yes, robins are small, aren't they? And one rather gets the impression reading your book that you’re are also quite vulnerable little creatures. Is that a fair appraisal?

A)  

Oh, certainly. There are lots of horrid thing out here that want to eat us. We have to keep a look out for sparrowhawks and buzzards, foxes, cats and rodents of all kinds that raid our nests and eat our eggs. It’s a pretty formidable list of predators. I mention most of them in the book. It can be quite scary at times even just reading about them.
open pages of a book with illustration of a feather on left

Q)  

Indeed. But may I ask you, how did you come by the idea of writing a book, anyway? I mean, it is a bit unusual, to say the least.

A)  

I thought to myself 'people need more information on the subject of robins – proper facts about what robins really want'. From nesting to habitat; from mating to fighting for our territory, there really is so much for people to discover. So I shook my feathers up and went ahead. And you're right - it’s actually the first book to have ever been written by a robin. It might even be the first book ever to have been written by a bird, for all I know. (You’ll have to ask someone about that.)
screen shot of open pages of a book with illustration to right

Q)   

So how long did it take to write, anyway?

A)   

A mighty long while, because I had to type everything one letter at a time with my beak. And that sort of thing can give you a terrible headache after a while. Also, having discovered towards the finish that I was slightly dyslexic meant that a whole team of editors had to step in at the last minute and tweak things. But it worked out all right in the end.
Robin Video Trailer
Video trailer

Q)   

On a more intimate level, how do people tell the difference between male and female robins?

A)   

You can’t (unless you’re another robin, that is). Both sexes have the same plumage and the same markings, and there’s nothing on the outside of males to give the game away, either. I explain all this in great detail in the book. Suffice to say that birds are quite different to humans.
open pages of a book with illustration of nestlings in bird box to right

Q)    

Interesting. So when do robins actually get around to pairing up and breeding? I presume that’s rather an important part of your year.

A)   

Anytime from February to around June, but more typically just during the months of spring. The thing is, even though the mating season is quite a short, robins really are great Romantics. So we do try to make the most of it.
open pages of a book with illustration of predators to right

Q)

    I see. So, tell me, is there any foundation to the popular belief that robins are particularly promiscuous? That bigamy is common among the species?

A)   

How dare you! Mind you own business.
open pages of a book with illustration of birds feeding young to left side

Q)  

Sorry, Robin. I do apologise. Perhaps we should talk instead about the amazing popularity of robins among people here in the UK. I understand that you were voted as Britain’s most popular bird not too long ago?
robin singing with text congratulating it on winning award

A)  

Yes, that’s correct. People do love us, don’t they! Perfectly understandable, of course. People are intrigued by our big black eyes and bright red breast. It's why our image turns up so often on Christmas cards and things like that. And, as I mentioned in the introduction, you can’t be in a garden or park and catch sight of robin and not feel just a little bit happy at the same time. There is a long association between robins and people. Very historic it is. And I mention all that in my book, too.
open pages of a book with illustration of migration movements of European robins

Q)   

Fascinating. Actually, that reminds me: I was wondering about your intended readership. I must say it does seem to be the kind of book just about anyone could pick up and enjoy. But tell me, do you feel that the distinctly anthropomorphic approach you've taken to the life-cycle of a single avian species is nonetheless successful in conveying the broad range of diverse opinions appropriate to, say, the typical historical-revisionist approach to the natural world as experienced in today’s post-modern intellectual environment?

A)   

Do what?

Q)  

Sorry, Robin. Are you getting tired?

A)  

No, but I am getting hungry. I seem to have been here for ages doing this. I could murder a worm!
screen shot of open pages of a book with illustration of robin with berry to right

Q)  

Thank you Robin. I’d better let you go and have your supper. I must say I found the task of preparing the illustrations for your book most stimulating, and I’m sure readers of Endymion here will have enjoyed learning all about our unique literary collaboration, as well.

A)  

You’re very welcome. It was a pleasure to make my acquaintance. Toodle Pip!
robin flying off to right hand side with vapour trail behind
THE MAGNIFICENT BRITISH GARDEN ROBIN – In his own Words’ is available in paperback and eBook. 
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