Wildlife Column: The Song Thrush – a truly delightful songster

We have two common birds actually called ‘thrushes’ - the ‘song thrush’ and the ‘mistle thrush’. The latter is a larger and more grey-coloured bird which makes a noise like an old-fashioned football-rattle as it flies, and the former is smaller, altogether more warmly coloured, and is a beautiful songster.

Monday, 3rd June 2019, 11:47 am
Updated Monday, 3rd June 2019, 11:54 am
Sheffield weather expert Professor Ian Rotherham.

 Don’t get me wrong, the mistle thrush can belt out a good tune, but it lacks the gentle sophistication of the song thrush. Two of our most accomplished common song-birds are blackbird, which must be number one, and blackcap, which runs it a close second but is far less common.

Indeed, many readers may actually hear blackcaps in the neighbourhood but perhaps don’t recognise them. However, the song thrush is up there with these two.

Maybe the only shortcoming of the song thrush’s repertoire is a tendency to repeat its little ditties; which it does three times for each note.

Song Thrush

Nevertheless, it is a welcome addition to the bird song chorus of woods, parks and gardens.

The books describe the song thrush song as powerful and direct with a variety of repeated phrases. Like the blackbird it also makes a loud ‘chuk-chuk’ call when alarming such as when possible predators like magpies are around.

This is a bird with a chequered history over recent decades and is a species which has caused concern amongst conservationists. (You know things are bad when birds that should be commonplace are under threat!) It seems that the usual suspects of intensive farming, urban expansion, and even the ways in which we garden may be to blame. However, duringthe past few years the song thrush appears to have turned a corner.

Certainly where I am, I see and hear song thrushes fairly regularly. They still don’t visit the garden feeders very often, but they are in the woods nearby – which is a start.

Feeding on slugs and snails this bird is certainly the gardener’s friend; as long as you don’t mind the occasional earthworm being taken too! I wonder how song thrushes are performing in your patch.