Redwing (Turdus iliacus)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Turdidae | [latin] Turdus iliacus | [UK] Redwing | [FR] Grive mauvis | [DE] Rotdrossel | [ES] Zorzal de Alas Rojas | [NL] Koperwiek


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Turdus iliacus EU c, w to n AF
Turdus iliacus coburni
Turdus iliacus iliacus

Physical charateristics

Turdus iliacus is a widespread breeder in northern Europe, but winters across much
of the continent, which constitutes >50% of its global wintering range. Insufficient
information was available to assess the species’s status using wintering population
data, but its European breeding population is extremely large (>16,000,000 pairs),
and was stable between 1970-1990. Breeding populations in most countries (including
Russia) were stable or increased during 1990-2000, and the species probably remained
stable overall.
Rather small, slight, restless thrush, with striped head and spots on underbody, red-chestnut underwing and flanks combine with rather dark upperparts to provide rather dark, distinctive but not diagnostic appearance.
Adult has chest, most of flanks, and sides of belly well marked, but rear flands and vent noticeably white. Immature has less obvious rufous flanks and fuller pattern of spots and streaks.
Silhouette and action in flight recall Starling. Commonest call distinctive. Sexes similar, some seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Redwing


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 33 cm wingspan max.: 35 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 23 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 8 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : Central, West


Breeds in upper and upper middle latitudes of west Palarctic, mainly in subarctic and arctic lowlands and uplands, but avoiding snow and ice, and exposed chilly or stormy situations. Likes cover of birch or mixed woodland, often with many pines and spruces, especially along rivers and on floodlands, but also in low thickets of scrub birch, dwarf willow, and juniper, preferably on swampy ground.


Breeds May-June in Scandinavia, mid May in Iceland. Nest site, on ground under bushes, or in thick vegetation, tree, bush, or stump. Nest bulky cup with outer layer of twigs, grass, and moss, plastered inside with mud, plus some fragments of vegetation, with inner lining of fine grass stems and leaves, often very thin, but with thicker rim, up to 2 cm.
4-6 eggs, incubation 12-13 days, by female only, but male may enter nest when female leaves and sit or stand over eggs.

Feeding habits

Wide variety of invertebrates, in autumn and winter also berries. Feeds on ground and in trees and bushes. In foraging on open ground in winter, runs or hops in short bursts, usually 1-5 paces, halting between each run to scan ground in immediate vicinity, if potential food item seen, may take a few steps towards it.
For surface items, usually pecks at it immediately, though may first pause briefly to cock head on one side, occasionally makes more than one peck.
For subsurface prey in hard ground, stops near potential prey, hesitates, often cocking head on one side and sometimes taking short step backwards or sideways, then stabs downwards with bill.


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.

This thrush has a widespread distribution in boreal regions of Eurasia. It inhabits also sub-arctic regions and alpine regions. The birds of northern Europe are wintering from the British Isles to the Mediterranean region and Morocco. The total European population is estimated at 5-7.5 million breeding pairs, and fluctuates according to the severity of climatic conditions in winter

Redwing status Least Concern


Migratory or partially migratory. Winter range of whole population only just extends outside west Palearctic, so east Siberian birds must travel at least 6500 km WSW to reach winter quarters. Iceland and Faeroes population winters in Scotland, Ireland, western France, and Iberia. Since early 1930s, has also wintered increasingly in Iceland, particularly in larger towns. British and mainland Eurasian population winters in western Europe south from Scotland, coastal Norway, and south-east Baltic area, and around Mediterranean, Black, and south Caspian Seas.
Autumn movement out of Sweden and Norway occurs late September to mid-November, sporadically to December. Departure from Tomsk (south-central Siberia) starts at end of August and a few remain to late October. Arrives in France from late September, weather and feeding conditions there determining when birds move on to Iberia: may reach Spain and Portugal in November, but in some years not until January. Return passage begins in February, takes place mainly March-April, continuing into May in north. Lack of fixed wintering areas is a notable feature of Redwing?s migration. Only a few ringing recoveries demonstrate year-to-year winter site-fidelity, and there are many to show that birds may winter in widely different localities in different winters, e.g. many birds ringed in Britain in winter have been recovered in subsequent winters in Italy, Greece, and localities even further to south and east.

Distribution map

Redwing distribution range map

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