Meet the Model – Thomas the Song Thrush
The Song Thrush , Turdus philomelos once known as the throstles is a medium sized member of the thrush family. It is smaller than Blackbird, slightly larger than a Redwing and about 15% smaller than a Mistle Thrush. Song Thrushes usually have warm-brown upperparts, although some individuals show colder tones more akin to those seen on the Mistle Thrush. The underparts are predominantly white, with a warm brown-buff wash on the sides, which extends and strengthens in colour under the wing . The brown spots on the underparts tend to arranged in lines on the flanks. The tail is proportionally shorter than in the Mistle Thrush and lacks any obvious white colouration.
A relatively shy and solitary bird, the Song Thrush rarely strays too far from cover. They are also 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 food for their young. The Song Thrush’s song can be repetitive, repeating the same phrase three or four times, is clear and flute-like, and is often chosen by people as their favourite bird song. They usually sing from a prominent perch.
Song Thrushes can be very early nesters with the breeding season taking place from March to April , with the young sometime fledged and on the wing by the end of March in a good season. In common with other thrushes, mud is incorporated into the nest but the Song Thrush does not bother with a grass lining – she lays her lovely blue eggs onto a smooth mud inner surface which makes their nests quite easy to recognise. Song thrushes begin singing in early spring, sometimes as early as January. A clutch of around four to six glossy blue eggs is laid, hatching around two weeks later. The parents will feed the chicks for the next fortnight, after which they can leave the nest but will still rely on the parents to feed them until they reach maturity.
Song thrushes will eat all kinds of food, but earthworms make up a large part of their diet. When the ground becomes too hard to get at them, song thrushes will eat snails instead. To get at the meat inside, they take the shell and crack it open by banging it against a stone ‘anvil’.
Did you know – The Song thrush is featured on the West Bromwich Albion FC crest. The name The Throstles, a nickname for the team, was used because the public house in which the team used to get changed kept a pet Song thrush in a cage
Song thrushes are classified as Red meaning they are a globally threatened population; one of the criteria to be met for Red List status with a 50% decline here in the U.K. over the past 25 years. Research has come up with no solid reason for this decline, many in the profession of ornithology believe it could be due to the loss of preferred feeding and nesting habitats: fewer hedgerows, increased drainage and tillage have reduced the abundance of invertebrates, a critical part of the Song thrush diet. The good news is that the latest surveys suggest that the decline has at least levelled off and may even be reversing. The song thrust was once regarded by many as the most common bird in the U.K. however estimates now put the population at around 1,000,000 breeding pairs.
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