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Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush Mistle Thrush Both Sexes
Grey-brown upperparts, whitish underparts with bold black spots.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Turdus viscivorus
Length: 27 cm  (11")
Wing Span: 42-48 cm  (16-19")
Weight: 110-140 g  (4-5 oz)
Breeding Pairs: 230 000
Present: All Year
Status: Amber

Description

The Mistle Thrush, Missel Thrush or Stormcock is bigger and paler than a Song Thrush and has bolder spotting on its breast and belly.

The upperparts of the Mistle Thrush are grey-brown. The breast and flanks are a pale buff with bold black spots, which are scattered all over the underparts. The wing feathers have pale edges, which gives the appearance of a pale patch on the wing when seen from a distance.

In flight, the Mistle Thrush usually flies at tree top height with several wing beats separated by short glides. The underside of the wings is white

Juveniles are pale and heavily spotted on the upperparts.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Alarm Call
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

The Mistle Thrush's alarm call is like a football rattle or machine gun.

Their dreamy song is loud and far reaching and often heard during stormy weather, hence its alternative name of Stormcock.

Feeding

The Mistle Thrush's diet is the same as the Song Thrush's: insects, worms, slugs but rarely snails, and berries, such as yew, rowan, hawthorn and holly.

In the winter, a Mistle Thrush will often vigorously defend a berry laden bush from other thrushes.

Nesting

The bulky grass-lined nest of grass, roots, moss, leaves and earth is built by the female, usually in the fork of a tree but also in shrubs and walls.

The smooth, glossy pale blue eggs have reddish-brown spots, and are approximately 31 mm by 22 mm. The female incubates the eggs by herself. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
Feb-May 2 3-6 12-15 16-20

Movements

The Mistle Thrush is resident with most birds being sedentary, but some do migrate; for example, some Scottish birds winter in Ireland and others make it to France. A few Scandinavian and northern European Mistle Thrushes winter in the UK, especially down the east coast.

Juveniles disperse in July.

Conservation

The population of Mistle Thrushes has diminished since the mid-1970s, especially in farmland areas, and so they appear on the Amber List, though some surveys suggest this decline may have halted.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

Mistle Thrushes visit the garden occasionally, looking for food, but is more often seen singing atop a neighbour's tree or TV aerial or flying over making its angry "football rattle" call.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2015.
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