Song thrush


Latin name: Turdus philomelos

Length: 23cm

Where: Inchailloch; any woodland or garden

When: All year round

The song thrush is well-named. There are sometimes as many as 100 different phrases in the seemingly endless melodies that it sings from high in the trees. Many people think it one of the most beautiful of our singers. Its song is easily distinguishable from that of the other virtuosos because of its habit of repeating a phrase three or four times before moving on to the next. These birds are also very good mimics, and you may hear the odd ring tone or car alarm in among their more musical phrases.

Most song thrushes stay in the UK all year round, though a number move west from mainland Europe in the winter to escape the cold, and some of our Scottish birds migrate to Ireland, where the weather is milder. They feed on snails, worms and other insects, which are harder to come by in really cold weather. If you see a pile of broken snail shells by a large stone it’s a sure sign that a song thrush has been at work. They are clever birds, smashing the snails on a rock to get at the juicy bodies inside. Like their European cousins the redwings and fieldfares, they also enjoy the autumn harvest of berries. Unlike these other thrushes, which tend to move around in flocks, they are solitary feeders, and if you see a lone, blackbird-sized bird with a soft grey, speckled breast, it’s likely to be a song thrush.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods