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Song Thrush

Turdus philomelas

A sweet singing garden bird with a taste for snails.

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

Close up of a perched Song Thrush

Song Thrush

Song Thrush on a branch in its typical woodland habitat

Song Thrush

Song Thrushes have a particular fondness for snails

Quick Facts

Classification

Scientific name:

Turdus philomelas

Family:

Thrushes

Conservation status:

Red

Measurements

Length:

20cm to 23cm

Wingspan:

33cm to 36cm

Weight:

50g to 107g

Appearance & Identification

The Song Thrush has similar proportions to the Blackbird but is heavily blotched below. Continue reading to learn more identification tips.

What do Song Thrushes look like?

The Song Thrush has uniform brown upperparts and cream-coloured underparts, heavily marked with black triangular spots. Their legs are pinkish, and their eyes are large and black. These insectivorous birds have a straight bill which is dark above but yellowish below and at the gape.

Adult males and females are similar, but birdwatchers can identify juveniles by their orange/buff streaked head, upper back (mantle), shoulders (scapulars), and upper wing feathers (coverts).

The Song Thrush is one of six thrush species in the United Kingdom.

Close up of a Song Thrush

Close up of a Song Thrush

How big are Song Thrushes?

Slightly smaller than a blackbird, the Song Thrush is a medium-sized garden and woodland bird. Let’s take a closer look at their dimensions.

Length

The Song Thrush has a body length of 20 to 23 centimetres, including its tail and bill.

Weight

These birds have a stocky build with a deep belly. They can weigh anything between 50 and 107 grams.

Wingspan

Song Thrushes have a wingspan of 33 to 36 centimetres.

Song Thrushes are slightly smaller than Blackbirds

Song Thrushes are slightly smaller than Blackbirds

Calls & Sounds

As its name suggests, the Song Thrush is an accomplished vocalist.

What sound does a Song Thrush make?

The Song Thrush has a rather interesting song composed of various phrases, each repeated two to four times. The male sings this song in low light at dawn and dusk. They also produce various alarm and excitement calls when confronted with intruders and predators.

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.

Diet

The Song Thrush is omnivorous and varies its diet with the seasons.

What do Song Thrushes eat?

Song Thrushes are primarily insectivorous. Worms, caterpillars, and other insects are the most important food sources, but these birds have also learned how to eat snails. They are beaten against rocks and other hard surfaces to break the shell.

Song Thrushes rely more heavily on fruits and berries in the autumn and winter when insects are harder to find.

What do Song Thrush chicks eat?

Both Song Thrush parents provide their chicks with small insects and other invertebrates. The young birds leave the nest after just two weeks or so but their parents continue to feed them for a further one to three weeks.

Song Thrush in the process of breaking a snails shell on a rock before eating

Song Thrush in the process of breaking a snails shell on a rock before eating

Habitat & Distribution

Would you like to learn where to find the Song Thrush? Continue reading to learn about their range and habitats in the United Kingdom.

What is the habitat of a Song Thrush?

The Song Thrush is a woodland bird that has adapted well to parks and gardens. They will also use forests, orchards, and hedgerow habitats.

What is the range of a Song Thrush?

Song Thrushes breed virtually throughout the United Kingdom and are only notably absent from parts of Scotland. They were also introduced to New Zealand and South Eastern Australia in the mid-1800s and are still present today.

Elsewhere, Song Thrushes are widespread breeding residents in Europe and Western Asia. Migratory populations extend into northern Europe and as far east as Northern Mongolia in the summer. These birds head south to winter in North Africa and the Middle East.

Where do Song Thrushes live?

Song Thrushes spend their time in trees, shrubbery, and on the ground. Foraging birds are often seen searching lawns and leaf litter for insects, but they also collect berries from the branches of shrubs and trees.

Song Thrushes are commonly spotted in woodlands, gardens and parks

Song Thrushes are commonly spotted in woodlands, gardens and parks

How rare are Song Thrushes?

Song Thrushes were once an abundant bird in the United Kingdom. They are still fairly common, although the species has declined, mostly due to changing land use patterns and habitat degradation.

Where can you see Song Thrushes in the UK?

Many birdwatchers are fortunate enough to have Song Thrushes in their back gardens, but a visit to a well-wooded park or area of the countryside can be productive if you don’t have a resident pair in your neighbourhood.

Look out for piles of snail shells on the ground and listen out for the male’s distinctive song at dawn and dusk to narrow your search area.

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.

Song Thrushes are generally more shy than other Thrush species

Song Thrushes are generally more shy than other Thrush species

Lifespan & Predation

How long do Song Thrushes live?

Song Thrushes that live to adulthood have an average lifespan of about three years. However, some individuals live much longer, like the oldest known specimen that lived for nearly 14 years.

What are the predators of Song Thrushes?

Adult Song Thrushes are particularly vulnerable to domestic cats and Sparrowhawks. Their eggs and chicks may fall prey to Magpies and Jays.

Are Song Thrushes protected?

Song Thrushes are protected in the UK by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. They have an Amber conservation status due to significant population declines.

Are Song Thrushes endangered?

The Song Thrush is not endangered. These widespread songbirds are globally classed as a ‘Least Concern’ species.

Song Thrush gathering nesting materials (moss)

Song Thrush gathering nesting materials (moss)

Nesting & Breeding

Song Thrushes breed from March to August in the UK. Read this section to learn some fascinating facts about their nesting biology.

Where do Song Thrushes nest?

Song Thrushes nest almost throughout the United Kingdom, even in parts of Scotland that are too cold to occupy in the winter. They build their neat nests in trees, shrubs, and creepers, or use artificial structures like walls and ledges.

The female builds the nest alone, using various plant materials like moss and twigs. Finally, she neatly plasters the inner cup with mud or clay.

What do Song Thrush eggs look like?

Song Thrush eggs are a bright blue or blue-green shade, each measuring about 27 millimetres long and 20 millimetres wide. A typical Song Thrush clutch consists of three to five eggs.

Do Song Thrushes mate for life?

Song Thrushes do not mate for life, although they are monogamous in the breeding season. It is possible that some pairs may reunite in consecutive years.

Song thrush nest

Song Thrush Nest

Juvenile song thrush

Juvenile Song Thrush

Behaviour

Song Thrushes are most often seen running in short bursts while searching for prey on the ground or among leaf litter.

Are Song Thrushes aggressive?

Many thrush species show high levels of aggression, but the Song Thrush has milder manners. These birds defend their territories by singing, and they will turn up the volume when challenged by a competing individual in a neighbouring territory.

Where do Song Thrushes sleep at night?

Song Thrushes sleep in sheltered positions like dense vegetation. They may roost in small groups in the winter.

Song Thrush having a drink of water

Song Thrush having a drink of water

Migration

Song Thrushes are resident throughout the year in parts of their global range but undertake extensive annual migrations in others.

Do Song Thrushes migrate?

The United Kingdom’s Song Thrush population is largely sedentary, although some birds make short local migrations to nesting grounds in Scotland. Many birds from Northern Europe visit the UK each winter to escape the harsh conditions on their breeding grounds.

Song Thrush hunting earthworms on the grass

Song Thrush hunting earthworms on the grass

FAQs

How many Song Thrushes are there in the UK?

There are an estimated 1.3 million Song Thrush territories in the United Kingdom.

How to attract Song Thrushes

You can attract Song Thrushes to your garden by creating a suitable habitat for foraging and nesting. A combination of lawn, shrubs and trees, with a layer of leaf litter and mulch, will provide excellent foraging grounds for these welcome birds.

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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Learn more about the Song Thrush

Similar birds to a Song Thrush

Other birds in the Thrushes family

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