Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Song Thrush

(1)  Song Thrush
(1) Song Thrush
(2) Song Thrush
(2) Song Thrush
(3) Song Thrush
(3) Song Thrush
(4) Song Thrush
(4) Song Thrush
(5) Favourite Food
(5) Favourite Food
(6) Songthrush
(6) Songthrush

 

 

A BIRDS EYE VIEW OF BUTE.

Look in your garden and most days you will see at least one Song Thrush looking for worms, snails, insects or berries. Their favourite food seems to be the Grove Snail, which is a colourful snail found in woods and hedgerows.

 

As you walk along a country road you may see the broken and empty shells on the road indicating that a song thrush has had its breakfast or tea. They have what is called a thrush’s anvil, which may be a stone or an area of a path where they break open the snail on a regular basis. And you may even see it coming out of the bushes with the snail, and holding it in its beak and smashing it on this anvil. This way of breaking open snails is unique to the song thrush although other birds try to do the same without much success.
This is the time that the thrush can be robbed of the snail by the Blackbird who is quick to spot an easy meal it is a wonder that there are any of these snails left as their camouflage is not the best that I have seen, you could say that they stick out like a sore thumb. They must be able to produce many young for their species to survive.

The call of the song thrush is short and repeated three or four times, and they have a variety of phrases sent out mostly from the top of a bush or small tree at this time of year as they look for a partner, and is also one of those that mimics other species, like the starling.
In the past they outnumbered the Blackbird, but that has now been reversed with the Blackbird taken over in numbers. There are still plenty to be seen on Bute though and are seen on a daily basis, and sometimes in quite good numbers as I wander around our Island, which that often that they must be fed up seeing me.
They have brown upperparts and a speckled chest and belly. Can at a distance be confused with the Mistle Thrush although this is much larger, but if there is nothing to compare it with, like another bird which is feeding nearby then identification becomes much harder?
In the winter there is a big influx of another of the Thrush family, The Redwing. They are the same size, but as their name suggests they have red under their wing, and also have a pale stripe above the eye. So if you see what you think is a song thrush in your garden and it has a stripe above its eye, then you are seeing a Redwing.
They are now leaving the farmers’ fields to feed in towns, so if you have a patch of grass, or a fruit bearing tree then you may be lucky to see one. With the redwings come the Fieldfares, which also feed on the fields and on trees that are full of berries, and they may stay nearby until bush is empty. They are a lot bigger than the redwing, about the same size as the Mistle variety. As usual they have speckled breasts, but that is where the similarity ends. They have a reddish brown back and a grey head, grey rump and a black tail.
A flock of these winter visitors feeding in a field can be very noisy, and sometimes you will hear the before you see them. Their voice is a cha-cha-cha- chack, and the Redwing is a fluty song.

Lastly the Mistle Thrush, the largest of them all. This is a fearless bird during nesting time and will even drive cats and dogs away from the nesting area, and if a pair decides to take up residence in your garden! Then they will even try to evict you by striking you on your head. They nest very early and have eggs by February, and the chicks can be fledged by March. They stay up high to deliver their call, a tall tree, and what seems to be a favourite place is Power Lines. These lines are ideal as they give the birds all round visibility, and they stretch for miles and miles giving them a high position where there are no trees.

 As there is not a lot that I can say about these birds individually, I have given them to you in one go.

Norrie Mulholland.

First Published in the Buteman 02-05-2003


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