Song Thrush

Turdus philomelos

Small brown bird with famous song. Distinguished by dark flecks on white breast.

Song Thrush

Family:

Thrushes

Length:

23cm

Wingspan:

33cm to 36cm

Weight:

65g to 100g

What does a Song Thrush look like?

Song thrushes have a small and rather compact body with a fairly short tail. Adults have warm-brown upperparts above a light brown or yellowish-white breast that is densely sprinkled with arrowhead-shaped black spots. They often have a slightly warmer ochre tone on flanks next to the wing edge. They have a creamy buff underwing that shows well in flight. Males and females have a similar appearance. Their legs can be yellowish or pinkish, as are their feet which are adapted for walking on the ground or perching. The bill is short and powerful. Song thrushes are smaller and warmer-toned than the mistle thrush.

Song Thrush

What does a Song Thrush sound like?

Its song is a succession of musical phrases. Each phrase is repeated two to four times. The song period usually begins in November and peaks from March to April. Most songs are performed early morning or late evening. The song is loud and proclaiming, with a shrill cascade of notes with few pauses. The call is a somewhat discreet, sharp “zit”.

Singing Song Thrush

Michał Jezierski, XC624237. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/624237.

Did you know?

The song thrush’s song can sometimes be heard up to half a mile away.

What does a Song Thrush eat?

The song thrush’s preferred food is snails, and it will break the shell against a stone with a flick of its head. Each thrush will have a favoured stone that it will return to for this task. It will also eat insects, spiders, worms, berries and fruit.

Song Thrush

Where can I see Song Thrushes?

In Britain, song thrushes are commonly found where there are trees and bushes. Their habitats include parks, woods, hedges, and sometimes towns. They can be seen all year round.

Song Thrush

Singing Song thrush

Signs and spotting tips

The song thrush is more solitary and shy than other thrushes. However, they can grow to be quite tame. It has a fast, slightly jerky flight. When standing, they have a long-legged, upright stance. Males will usually sing from an exposed tree-top perch.

How does a Song Thrush breed?

The song thrush breeds in forests, gardens and parks. The female will build a well-shaped nest with a cup of grass and a unique, smooth inner lining of wood pulp or mud. Nests can be moss-clad and are often well concealed in ivy or hedges. The female will lay a clutch of 4 or 5 glossy light-blue eggs that are spotted black or purple. She will incubate these alone for up to 17 days. After the same time period, the young will fledge. She can raise 2 or 3 broods a year.

Song Thrush

Song Thrush Nest

Song Thrush

Juvenile Song Thrush

How long does a Song Thrush live for?

The typical life span is around 3 years, but they are known to live for up to 13 years.

Do Song Thrushes migrate?

The song thrush is partially migratory, with many birds travelling to France or southern Europe for the winter. Depending on the severity of the winter, some birds can travel as far as the Canary Islands and North Africa. During the migration, the song thrush flies at night, with a strong, purposeful flight action.

Threats and conservation

Although it is not threatened globally, European song thrush populations have experienced a serious decline, possibly due to a change in farming practices. In Britain, numbers have declined by up to 50 per cent, and it consequently features on some regional red lists.

What is a group of Song Thrushes called?

There are no specific collective nouns for the Song Thrush, instead, you can use general Thrush collective nouns such as:

  • a hermitage of thrushes
  • a mutation of thrushes
  • a rash of thrushes

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Articles featuring the Song Thrush

Other birds in the Thrushes family