Lovely Mistle Thrushes, larger than Song Thrushes and standing more upright, with blotchier chests, greyer-brown backs. and longer tails, have been eating the berries from our Rowan Joseph Rock, as they do most years.(The BTO do a good comparison of Missile and Song Thrush if the differences confuse you). They are named after their habit of eating Mistletoe berries, though they will eat Holly, Yew and Rowan and you may know they are in your garden or park from their distinctive, rattling call, at any time of year. Mistle Thrushes are one of the species which ‘resource-guard’, where they will aggressively defend a source of berries from all-comers.Studies show that birds which do this have
Mistle Thrush, Rowan, Joseph Rock
Mistle Thrush, Rowan, Joseph Rock
Mistle Thrush, eating berries, Joseph Rock Rowan
than those who don’t ‘resource-guard’. Conditions: Mild, still and sunny. Temperature: Max 12 Min 7C.
Mistle Thrushes have gone through disturbing declines and are now on the red (most endangered) list. We regularly see them in autumn, feeding on our berried trees and now, when food in the wild is scarce, bird-tables really helps them get through lean times and mean we get great views of these dramatic birds. Here is a drawing I did showing them compared to the Song Thrush. Mistle Thrushes are larger, with less regular, more blotchy spots on their chests than Song Thrushes, and also have greyer backs. They are slightly bigger than Blackbirds. Mistle Thrushes have a very distinctive, easy to learn call, like a football rattle (listen on the RSPB site. Conditions: Grey with drizzle. Temperature: Max 4- Min 0C.
A pair of Mistle Thrush swooped in yesterday. The Latin name (Turdus Viscivorus) references these ‘voracious eaters of Mistletoe’! Their nickname, Stormcock, refers to their habit of singing their beautiful, ‘flutey’, loud song from the highest tree, fiercely declaring their territories, even during stormy weather. Early nesters, this pair may already have laid their eggs. Mistle Thrush have white underwings. Song Thrushes are orange-tan on their underwings. Conditions: A very wet day. Temperature: Max 6- Min 5C.
Mistle Thrush, defending its feeding area and showing its white underwing.
Mistle Thrushes have greyer backs than song Thrushes
Mistle Thrushes are larger with larger, more blotchy spots than Song Thrushes
Mistle Thrushes have been turning up on our Rowan ‘Joseph Rock’, which I put in the garden years ago specifically because the autumn colour is so good, and the yellow berries are eaten later than the native Rowan’s red berries. They have just decided the berries are ripe for eating. They do something unusual, called ‘resource guarding’, as Sian researched recently. Some Mistle Thrushes will guard a tree, often Holly or Yew, to deter other birds from eating the berries, saving them for harder times in
Mistle Thrush on the Rowan
Mistle Thrush with its body marked throat and chest
midwinter. Resource-guarding Mistle Thrushes have been shown to breed earlier and have bigger broods than others. Conditions: Another in this spell of worryingly warm November days, with sunshine and a stiff breeze. Temperature: Max 17- Min 9c.
St David’s Day, the meteorological start of spring, and daffodils in bud in the garden. The other day, along the Don, we watched a
Mistle thrush by the Don- showing the blotchy spots extending right down the underside of the bird, and the pale back
Conditions: A fair day becoming wet. Temperature: Max 8- Min 1c.