Song Thrush

Turdus Philomelos

23cm

Appearance

The Song Thrush is not as big as the Blackbird and is also smaller than the Mistle Thrush; its tail is quite short, it is brown above, and it is paler below. The flanks and breast have small black dots. The tail is brown, the wings are orange underneath with a slightly orange bar, and the breast has a faint yellow tinge. Juveniles who have just begun to fly resemble adults, but their markings are not as clear and the upperparts have pale streaks.

Habitat

Prefers habitat with a range of open lands and thick vegetation, and also makes use of trees and bushes. May be found in gardens and woodlands, where it feeds beneath trees and can make a quick dash for cover.

Character

The Song Thrush is territorial when breeding, and many of the region's birds stay on breeding territory throughout winter. They are usually seen alone when not breeding, but may form unstructured groups when migrating. In the air, it usually flies in straight lines, and lacks the curves of the Mistle Thrush. Usually finds a perch from which to sing, closer to the ground than the Mistle Thrush.

Food

Diet includes snails (opened against a hard item), earthworms, caterpillars, beetles, and fruits, particularly berries.

Breeding

Nests are built in March, and female then lays 3-5 eggs, which she incubates for 14-15 days (sometimes with occasional help from male). Both parents feed the hatchlings, which depart the nest at about 13 days old and are quickly independent. Brood may be divided between parents, and multiple broods are possible.

Population

The Song Thrush is both a resident and a migrant bird of the region. A number of birds from Scotland and the north of England spend winter in Ireland, while some southern English birds head to France or Spain for the colder months. The region receives Scandinavian visitors in autumn, and birds from Belgium and the Netherlands may spend winter in the south of the region. Approximately 1.2 million pairs breed in the UK and 500 000 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

The Song Thrush can be quite timid, particularly during the breeding season, so winter is often a better time to seek them. That said, the Scilly Isles hosts the birds all year round, and the birds there can be confiding. Some difficulties can occur in separating the Song Thrush from the Mistle Thrush; check for the orangish underwings of the Song Thrush in flight.

Voice

The song is far-reaching and melodic, and is made up of as much as 100 short, repetitive phrases. Usually sings in the daytime and as the sun is going down, predominately between March and July. Has a 'tik' call used in flight.
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