February 27th 2018

Spot this Species Mistle Thrush & Song Thrush

It's been a while since we had species of the week so here's two 'Spot this Species' to go out and look for.

Spot this Species
Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus
Song thrush Turdus philomelos

With the days getting longer many birds have started singing as they become territorial.
Song thrush and Mistle thrush are familiar but often confused. To help you here are some distinguishing features - open the pdf below. If you'd like to receive these and other information on biological recording sign up to our email list.

In song the Song thrush has a repeated series of notes and often sings from low down in trees and shrubs in an enthusiatic manner, often before dawn and into the evening.
It is smaller and dumpier than the blackbird. Song thrush plummage shows warm brown rufus tones.
It has dense dark upper breast spots, shaped like upwards pointing arrowheads on a white background. The Song thrush tail is the same colour as rest of the upperparts. Wing tip feathers are edged with orange-buff, adding to the warm fell of its plumage. It is the bird that uses anvils to break snail shells.
You can listen to the Song thrush's repeating song here.

The Mistle thrush song is similar to a blackbird. However it has shorter phrases as if it is hesitant to sing - it has a melancholy feel, an almost desolate tone. It usually sings from high exposed perches. Listen out too for its distinctive rattle call, heard often when defending berry rich bushes in winter.
It is larger than a blackbird, being bigger than a song thrush. When on the ground it often has an upright alert posture.
There is no warmth to the plummage of a Mistle thrush and can appear to be rather grey. It has thorn like spots on the upper breast, which often coalesce to give darker patches on the side. The spots are more rounded on the belly and flanks. Its tail has pale outer edges which contrast with the paler rump and lower back.
You can listen to the Mistle thrush's hesitant and more melancholic song here.

There are five times more breeding song thrushes and they are more commonly recorded, partly because they are more likely to appear in gardens.
Just to confuse things a little more is the Redwing which can be identified by a white stripe over its eye.

Added 27/02/2018 11:56