Do Robins Make Good Pets? Can You Keep One? Is It Legal? Should You?


Robins are friendly birds that don’t need a lot of care, grooming or space. These factors, along with a robin’s widely diverse diet, can make them good candidates for keeping as pets.

Often referred to as Robin Red Breasts, Robins are omnivorous and feed on everything from fruits to insects. Robins are friendly birds, even approaching humans who might be offering tokens of food. 

They might also eat food out the hand of a human if they get to a point of developing a bond of trust with that person.

Robins are also likely to come to your garden table during the winter season in search of food, so the bonding can continue throughout the wintertime.

robin feeding from hand
robin feeding from hand

Is it legal to keep a Robin?

However, it is important to remember that it is illegal to keep robins as pets in many places, especially those that are younger than 13 months old, so it is important to consider local laws before considering domesticating a robin. This ban on keeping robins as pets is in place primarily because caged robins are prone to depression and premature death.

Robins are intelligent, inexpensive to feed, social and affectionate. They don’t need a large habitat or require loads of grooming. But again, keep in mind that it may be illegal for you to keep one as a pet. Robins are generally wild birds and the law would generally look to protect these rights.

Do people domesticate robins?

It is extremely rare for one to find domesticated robins. Taking a bird from its wild habitat and keeping it at a cage in your house is not only unethical but generally considered a violation of the conservation laws as well.

Here are some other reasons why making a Robin a Pet can cause some difficulties…

Short Robin lifespan

On average, the lifespan of robins is between 13 months up to 1.6 Yrs. Their offspring can be quite fragile and vulnerable to environmental stresses and particularly needs to stay with their parents for some time in order to learn how to fly and hunt for prey.

Humans obviously can’t teach these skills to a young bird, and without them, the bird will certainly die. However, once they pass this 13-month barrier, Robins have been known to live for 8 to 10 years.

Stress of cages

Wild robins typically make their nests in open land and are extremely territorial. A cage is an alien environment for them and does not provide them with the space or resources for building a nest or flying freely in an open sky.

This puts great stress on the bird, causing it to become depressed. Depressed robins have been observed to pull out their own feathers using their beaks, they refuse to feed and eventually die. Depression is also reported to be the number one killer of pet birds.

Local laws

You need to consider the local laws before keeping a robin as a pet. So check state laws before considering this.

However, if you happen to rescue a robin, an exception might be granted, e.g. if you take an injured robin to a vet and the vet after inspection signs a document which states that the bird needs supervision, you can then volunteer to adopt it.

Alternatively, you are able to care for the Robin for a short time until you are able to see a qualified veterinarian or take it to a bird sanctuary.

Moral decision

One obvious question about keeping a Robin is a moral one. While we may be comfortable with the idea of having parrots or other birds in cages, somehow the idea of a caged Robin would not seem right to many. This is a moral dilemma you need to square away with yourself.

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Conclusion

So, yes, a robin itself is a tamed bird but keeping it as a pet is unethical as it causes great stress to the bird. Therefore, it’s advisable not to keep them ‘caged’ in your house.

To be truthful, I don’t know anyone that does keep a Robin in a cage, I do know some that feed them regularly in the wild though and who come to visit them to feed on the hand.

The main question it would seem is not whether you can keep a Robin as a pet, or whether you can train one, but whether you should keep a Robin as a pet. For me, I’d say you can get all the pleasure you need by just observing them free-flying in your yard and in the wild

This content has been checked and verified by a qualified veterinary practitioner. The article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Michael

A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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