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What does this robin's body language say?
By Laura Erickson


Tail wagging
is the name for this robin's behavior: quickly lifting and lowering its tail. The bird does this when it is feeling agitation. Even though I wasn’t bothering the babies, he was upset that a potential predator was so near them. If I had gotten too close, this daddy robin may have come and bonked me on the head.

Watch closely. Do you see that when the tail goes up the wings get lowered? This is partly to exaggerate the different posture. When he raises his tail he's also raising his head feathers a little. Robins raise their head feathers when agitated. This probably helps a robin avoid some territorial fights, because his body is so clearly showing how agitated he is. Any other robin who doesn't want to fight over the territory would just leave.

 


Photos Laura Erickson
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