All About Song Thrush - Song Thrush Bird Facts & Information

About Song Thrush (turdus philomelos) Birds

This medium sized species of Thrush is commonly found throughout the UK and Europe. 

Best recognised for its brown back and cream coloured belly with black spots, the familiar garden visitors numbers in towns and gardens has declined by a significant amount in recent years. 

True to this bird's name, Song Thrushes love to sing, so if they're in your garden, you’ll recognise their stunning musical phrases. Their song is so well known and loved, it is commonly referred to in poetry and they have even been called the 'wise Thrush' by some poets.

Unlike other birds, this medium bird is known to eat snails - to get to the food, these birds will smash the shell onto a rock to get what’s inside. If you ever come across a pile of broken Snail shells - you can almost guarantee you have had Song Thrush hanging around.

Do Song Thrush migrate?

In the UK, Song Thrush are a sedentary species of bird which means they are resident all year round as the weather is warm enough and there are enough food sources. 

However, Song Thrush that live in other locations, such as Northern areas such as Scandinavia and Russia, these birds are more likely to migrate south to warmer climates during the harsh weather, with some heading as far as North Africa and Southern Europe.

The UK residents can be a partial migrant and have been known to move between regions in the UK in search of better weather and food sources in harsher winters.

Are Song Thrush Rare in the UK?

On the UK conservation status, the Song Thrush is considered orange which means the populations have been declining.

Between 1970 to 1980 - this bird underwent a quick population decline across the UK - which meant for some time they were missing from our gardens. 

In more recent years, there has been a slight improvement in the population and there are now around 1,200,000 breeding bird territories.

What Does a Song Thrush Sound Like?

Known for its melodious song, which is often sung early in the morning, these birds sing songs that sound like a flute, clear reparations of a song.

The song may sound like ‘tswee-tsiu-tsiu-tsiu’ - sometimes, these species mimic the calls and sounds of other birds in their environment too.

Do Female Song Thrush Sing?

Yes, female Song Thrush do sing. Their singing behaviour is less frequent and less elaborate than the males. 

In all birds, singing is associated with territorial defence and mate attraction so in many species, it’s the male that sings the most.

How Big is a Song Thrush?

The Song Thrush is a medium sized bird that measures around 20 CM in length, from beak to tail. 

This bird has a wingspan of around 33 to 36 CM and weighs around 110 grams. The males are usually heavier than females and these sizes can vary on other factors too. 

Song Thrush vs Mistle Thrush

The Song Thrush and the Mistle Thrush are both members of the Thrush family, and although similar, these birds do have some differences. 

The Mistle Thrush is usually bigger than the Song Thrush with the Mistle Thrush coming in at about 27 CM, compared to the smaller Song Thrush at 20 CM. 

Mistle Thrushes have a robust build and an upright posture, their heavily spotted underparts and greyish brown body with big dark spots is easy to recognise. The Song Thrush has a slender build and a brown body with smaller black spots.

Both species are known for their harmonious songs, but their vocalisations are different with the Song Thrush having a more varied and complex song with a repeated phrase. 

Mistle Thrushes are often found in more open habitats such as parks, gardens, farmland, and woodland edges. They are less likely to be found in dense woodland. Song Thrushes, on the other hand, are more adaptable and can be found in a wider range of habitats including woodlands, parks, gardens, and hedgerows.

Where do Song Thrush live?

Song Thrushes live across a wide range of habitats. The Song Thrush are woodland British birds that have adapted across a range of habitats due to food and nesting being scarce - so these adult birds are mainly associated with woodlands - both mixed and deciduous forests, and both dense and open woodlands. 

A space these birds have adapted to is parks and gardens and any area with suitable vegetation. They are known to love using gardens with trees and shrubs for nesting and foraging. 

Farmland areas with hedgerows and scattered trees are also a firm favourite of these birds. In these spaces they love to forage for insects and other invertebrates.

How long do Song Thrush live?

In the wild, the lifespan of these birds can vary on various factors but generally, they have an average lifespan of around two to five years. There have been some individuals that have been known to live longer with maximum lifespans recorded of around 10 years. 

Things like predators, habitat quality and human impact can influence their life span negatively.

When & How Do Song Thrushes Breed

In the UK, the breeding season begins early spring in March and goes on until August. 

During the season, the Song Thrushes will engage in courtship displays to establish territories and build the nests for breeding. The male will sing to attract mates and defend the breeding territory from other males. 

Towards late march, the female Song Thrush builds the nests that are cup shaped and made from grass, twigs and leaves - these nests are located in trees and bushes. 

The female will lay a clutch of four to five eggs and she will incubate them for around two weeks. Once they hatch, the male and the female will care and feed the chicks. 

After around 14 days, the young birds leave the nest. For a short period of time, these birds will continue to be fed by their parents. The majority of Song Thrushes will have two or three broods each season.

Are Song Thrush Monogamous? 

Yes, they are generally considered to be monogamous during the breeding season. They will typically form pairs with one mate for the whole of the season and they will work together to make the season successful and raise their offspring.

What do Song Thrush Eat?

Song Thrushes re primarily insectivorous, but they also have a varied diet that includes a range of other food items.

Song Thrushes feed extensively on insects, including beetles, caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, and various other invertebrates. They may forage for insects on the ground, in leaf litter, or in trees and shrubs.

Song Thrushes are known for their ability to extract snails from their shells. They may use a hard surface, such as a stone or a patio, to break open the shell and access the soft body inside.

In addition to insects and invertebrates, Song Thrushes also consume a variety of berries and soft fruit, especially during the autumn and winter months when insects are less abundant.

While not a major part of their diet, Song Thrushes may occasionally consume seeds, particularly in the winter when other food sources are scarce. They may feed on seeds from grasses, weeds, and garden plants.

Song Thrush Predators 

These birds face predation from various natural predators throughout their range.

Birds of Prey are known to prey on Song Thrushes, particularly targeting them when they are foraging on the ground or perched in exposed locations.

Domestic cats, foxes, weasels, and stoats are all known to prey on Song Thrushes. These predators may raid nests for eggs and young chicks or ambush adult birds while they are foraging.

While not natural predators in the traditional sense, humans may indirectly impact Song Thrush populations through habitat destruction, farming practices, pollution, vehicle collisions, and predation by domestic pets.

How to Attract Song Thrushes into Your Garden

In your garden, it can be easy to attract Song Thrush and they can be a joy to observe.

Song Thrushes are attracted to gardens with a variety of vegetation types, including trees, shrubs, and hedges. Plant native species that offer food sources such as berries, fruits, and insects. Create dense vegetation for nesting sites and cover.

Install a bird bath or shallow water feature where Song Thrushes can drink and bathe. Make sure to keep the water clean and refreshed regularly.

Offer a diverse range of food sources that Song Thrushes enjoy. Plant berry-producing shrubs such as hawthorn, holly, and elderberry. Leave fallen fruits such as apples or pears on the ground. Provide mealworms or suet cakes to attract them during the winter months.

Create sheltered areas in your garden with dense shrubs, vegetation or brush piles where Song Thrushes can find protection from predators and inclement weather.

Song Thrush won't readily use nest boxes, but to help them you can leave areas of your garden untidy with leaf litter and fallen branches to provide potential nest-building materials and hiding spots for Song Thrushes.

Five Facts about Song Thrush 

  1. The Song Thrush is renowned for its melodious and varied song, which consists of a series of clear, flute-like notes often delivered from prominent perches. They are one of the earliest birds to sing in the morning, often starting their songs before dawn.

  2. Song Thrushes are known for their unique foraging behaviour called the "anvil technique." They use hard surfaces such as stones or pavement to crack open the shells of snails and extract the soft body inside, demonstrating remarkable tool use among birds.

  3. During the breeding season, male Song Thrushes vigorously defend their territories through vocalisations and displays. They may engage in aggressive interactions with intruding males to protect their nesting sites and mates.

  4. While not as adept at mimicry as some other bird species, Song Thrushes are capable of incorporating mimicry into their songs. They may imitate the calls of other bird species or even mechanical sounds from their environment.

  5. Song Thrushes are adaptable birds found in a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, parks, gardens, hedgerows, and urban areas. They are often associated with human-altered landscapes and can thrive in diverse environments as long as suitable food and nesting sites are available.