Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Video: Remarkable robin in Ballymena garden centre responds to its name

Garden centre worker has red-breast Robbi eating out of her hand

By Nevin Farrell

Published 13/02/2016

Rachael Hiles coaxes Robbi the robin with some food
Rachael Hiles coaxes Robbi the robin with some food
Robbi he inches closer
Robbi swoops in for his dinner
Rachael Hiles

A garden centre has a very unusual regular visitor - a robin red-breast that responds to his name being called.

Plant supervisor Rachael Hiles (54) has named her little flying friend Robbi and literally has him eating out of her hand.

She told the Belfast Telegraph that while it took her six months to gain the bird's trust, he now rarely strays from her side.

Customers at Creative Gardens at Galgorm near Ballymena regularly look on in amazement as Robbi responds to Rachael's voice.

Robbi even has a girlfriend called Sally who gets in on the act by waiting on the ground, hoping morsels of food will fall as Rachael feeds her pal.

Rachael explained that if she does not give Robbi food quickly enough, he gets annoyed and flies around her head.

"I've known Robbi since I started here about two years ago," she explained. "It started because, being a garden centre, we sell bird feed. It was attracting a lot of wildlife, but the robin was not getting anything to eat so I brought food to him. I thought to myself: 'Right, I will train this wee boy', because he was friendly.

"It took a while for him to come closer and closer, but after about six months he was on my hand. He doesn't stay on my hand for long - it is very much that he bounces on, gets what he wants and bounces off - but he responds when I call his name. If he is out of view and I shout his name, he will fly over.

"If I don't see him, I keep his food in a bottle. Then I go out to the trees, shake the bottle and wait for a couple of minutes, and lo and behold he usually appears.

"He will come to me looking for food, and if I am not quick enough he will fly at my hair as if to say: 'Come on, come on'. Sally, his girlfriend, now comes as well. She is a floor-creeper and would hang around my feet waiting for bits to come that Robbi takes from my hand and throws to the floor.

"Customers take photos of him. He is good with them - he isn't really bothered by them. I was able to let a wee girl feed him and he was quite happy with that. He doesn't mind strangers. He is totally our mascot. He is a character and everybody knows about him in the garden centre."

However, Robbi has caused some problems for Rachael. "My phone has not been working because it has been stuffed with bird food, as I had put it in my pocket," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph