Song thrushes (Turdus philomelos) are a familiar and popular garden songbird whose numbers are declining seriously, especially on farmland making it a Red List species. The decline appears to be caused by a combination of lack of food and nesting sites, both brought about by the intensive farming methods so widely practiced in the UK today such as the loss of hedgerows and wet ditches. One of our management plan targets is to ensure no loss or degradation of existing field boundaries. Targets like this will help to maintain the habitats that are so important to the Song Thrush.

Once voted the favourite songster in an RSPB poll, it can be heard singing in early spring as they start to establish a breeding territory, essential for nesting. Its song of repeated phrases distinguishes it from the Blackbird and may include sounds copied from other sources such as trim phones or borrowed sounds from other birds.

Much poetry has been written about the Song thrush, perhaps inspired by our sense that the song is part of the soundtrack of the English countryside. Thomas Hardy wrote about the ‘Darkling Thrush’ contrasting its ‘full-hearted evensong/of joy illimited’ with the exhausted winter landscape.

The dialect names throstle and mavis both mean thrush, being related to the German drossel and French mauvis respectively. Throstle dates back to at least the fourteenth century and was used by Chaucer in the ‘Parliament of Fowls’ and in modified form gave rise to a group of surnames – Thurstle, Thrussell, Throssell and Thrush, starting life as a nickname for those as cheerful as the bird itself.

Visit our events section to find out about Dawn chorus walks in early spring when you may hear Song Thrushes.