Now it is the turn of the Mistle Thrush to feast on our Joseph Rock Rowan tree berries. As the leaves get a stronger, fiery colour the yellow berries ripen and draw in many birds. Mistle Thrushes, named after their penchant for mistletoe berries, are very fond of these Rowan berries and turn up every year. Larger than Song Thrushes, with paler, almost grey backs and bigger more ‘splodgy’ spots the Mistle Thrush is an aggressive defender of food sources like these berry bushes once they find one. Conditions: Sunny and cool. Temperature: Max 10 Min 6c.
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
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 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
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
Conditions: A fair day becoming wet. Temperature: Max 8- Min 1c.