Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Turdidae | [latin] Turdus viscivorus | [UK] Mistle Thrush | [FR] Grive draine | [DE] Misteldrossel | [ES] Zorzal Charlo | [NL] Grote Lijster


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Turdus viscivorus EU c, w, also n Africa
Turdus viscivorus bonapartei
Turdus viscivorus deichleri
Turdus viscivorus viscivorus

Physical charateristics

Large thrush, with bold, upright carriage emphasized by length of tail, powerful bill, and sturdy legs. Combination of olive-grey-brown upperparts, large discrete black spots on underparts, and white underwing diagnostic. Noticeable pale area on lore and around eye, corners of tail almost white, obvious from behind.
Flight not undulating despite frequent complete closure of wings. Sexes similar, little seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Mistle Thrush

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/M/Mistle Thrush.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 45 cm wingspan max.: 50 cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Central, West, also North Africa


Breeds in west Palearctic, historically in more continental upper band middle latitudes than other thrush, but has during last 200 years extended into oceanic zone, especially in Britain and Ireland.
Despite bold abn robust appearance and conduct in wind and rain, is vulnerable to cold, especially snow and ice, and avoids arid and very warm areas. In mountain regions prefers middle altitudes. In boreal, temperate, and Mediterranean zones, widely but thinly distributed where is conjunction of stands of tall tree with open grassland or short herbage, not too close to human settlements and with ready access to seasonal berry fruits.


Breeds April-June in West and Central Europe, February in Britain, late March in North Africa, April-May in Finland. Nest site is built on stout branch against trunk of tree, or on fork of horizontal branch, also on ledge of building, cliff-face, or bank. Nest is a large cup comprising 3 layers – outermost of sticks, grass, moss, and roots, loosely woven then compacted by middle layer of mud, often containing grass and leaves and some rotten wood which sometimes penetrates to outside of nest; thicker inner lining of fine grasses, sometimes with pine needles. 3-5 eggs, incubation 12-15 days, by female, rarely assisted by male.

Feeding habits

Wide variety of invertebrates, in autumn and winter also berries. Feeds on ground and in trees and bushes. To take flying insects will fly up high in the air like Starling.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Turdus viscivorus is a widespread breeder across much of Europe, with >50% of its
global breeding range occurring in the region. Its European breeding population is
very large (>3,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. The species remained
stable overall during 1990-2000, with increases in the sizeable German population
at least partly compensating for declines elsewhere?notably in France and the United
Kingdom. Crucially, the key population in Russia remained stable.
This thrush inhabits north-western Africa and a major part of Europe and western Asia, reaching India and Mongolia to the east. It breeds in coniferous forests, some deciduous forests and open habitats with isolated large trees. It has undergone a strong expansion at the beginning of this century, but is seems now to be stable and in a few regions a decline has even been reported. In southern and western Europe it is sedentary. The population of the European Union (12 Members States) is estimated at 1.2-2.2 million breeding pairs and the total European population at 1.8-4.1 pairs.

Mistle Thrush status Least Concern


Varies from migratory in north and east of range to sedentary or dispersive in west and south, though even in least migratory populations some birds make substantial movements. Some central and south European birds winter within breeding range of the relatively sedentary deichleri of north-west Africa, Corsica, and Sardinia. Main winter range of central European and Scandinavian birds extends from Belgium through western and southern France to north-east Spain. British birds tend to be sedentary or make movements of less than 50 km, though proportion travel considerably further, some to France.

Autumn migration in Britain mainly August-November although juveniles and adults may form flocks in July and start to move south. Return to breeding areas in spring is early. First birds appear on central European breeding grounds in February. In central Sweden, average arrival date 27 March.

Distribution map

Mistle Thrush distribution range map

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