The Song Thrush is as much known for its delightful song as it is its attractive appearance. A species which is now sadly in decline in the UK, the Song Thrush’s song is easily recognisable because of the continual repetition of phrases. So three or four renditions of one phrase, then three or four renditions of another. Both male and female birds are identical, with the speckled breast making them fairly easily to identify – note that the speckles are smaller and more evenly distributed than on the similar Mistle Thrush, which is also a larger bird.

What sound does a Song Thrush make?

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Song Thrush nesting and breeding habits

The nest tends to be well concealed and in locations such as amongst a climbing plant like ivy, against the trunk of a tree with plenty of cover round it, or even in an old building. The female Song Thrush builds the nest alone, which consists of grasses, twigs, moss and roots, then lined with mud to form a neat cup. There are two, sometimes three, broods per season of 4-5 eggs which the female mainly broods alone. Both parents feed and tend the young, which leave the nest after twelve to fifteen days.

Song Thrush history and population trends

The Song Thrush has suffered a moderate decline over the last 50 years or so, with a sharp decline between the mid-60s and mid-90s, then something of a recovery since then. However, numbers are still low relative to historic records and where the species should be, so it is currently listed as red status.

Behaviour traits of Song Thrushes

A relatively shy and solitary bird, the Song Thrush rarely strays too far from cover. They are also fairly territorial, with a breeding territory established in the late winter or early spring. However, both male and female birds will go outside their territory in order to gather sufficient food for their young.

Song Thrush diet and food

The Song Thrush’s diet is largely earthworms and snails, with the latter broken open by the bird smashing the shell against a hard object such a stone. Other food incudes insects and spiders, plus fruit and berries in the colder months. Although regularly seen in gardens, Song Thrushes are not easy to attract to feeding stations and won’t, generally, even come onto a bird table or ground tray. However, they will feed direct from the ground and sunflower hearts and suet pellets spread on the lawn may well be taken.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does a Song thrush sing so much?

As with all songbirds, male Song thrushes sing to a) attract a mate, and b) to establish and maintain a territory. In reality Song thrushes probably sing little or no more than most other song birds, but the fact the song is so memorable and coupled with the fact it’s usually carried out from a high and obvious perch, means we might perceive the species sings more than others.

How do I attract Song thrushes to my garden?

The key to attracting Song thrushes to gardens is suitable habitat which provides cover, potential breeding sites and, crucially, a source of natural food and notably snails. So dense shrubs and hedging, wild flower areas, plus habitat piles which include rotting wood etc. In the winter months, song thrushes can also be attracted by berries – e.g. on a hawthorn bush – fallen apples on the ground, and by food put out for them such as sunflower hearts (on a bird table, ground tray or straight on the ground).

Where do Song thrush go in winter?

The answer is largely dependent on weather, with mild winter conditions meaning that most Song thrushes will remain in their same area of the UK. However, harsh and very cold conditions will see more Song thrushes heading south, with some going as far as Spain.

Do Song thrushes mate for life?

No, Song thrushes do not mate for life, though they are monogamous during a single breeding season.

Do Song thrushes fly in flocks?

Outside of the breeding season, Song thrushes sometimes form small and loose groups, but typically are more likely to be see alone. The only exception which would qualify as flying as a flock, is during any migration over the English Channel (see answer above about when migration might happen).