Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Song Thrush

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Turdidae | [latin] Turdus philomelos | [UK] Song Thrush | [FR] Grive musicienne | [DE] Singdrossel | [ES] Zorzal Comun | [NL] Zanglijster


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Turdus philomelos EU c, w to n AF
Turdus philomelos clarkei
Turdus philomelos hebridensis
Turdus philomelos nataliae
Turdus philomelos philomelos

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized thrush, with well-balanced form, upright carriage, brown-toned upperparts, and boldly spotted underprts. Within west Palearctic thrush, has diagnostic combination of faint face pattern and golden-buff underwing.
Sexes similar, slight seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Song Thrush

[audio: Thrush.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 33 cm wingspan max.: 36 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Central, West


In upper and middle latitudes of west and central Palearctic, both continental and oceanic, largely temperate but also boreal and marginally subarctic. Tolerates cool, humid, and windy but not arid, very warm, nor persistently frosty and snowy climate.
Birds can exist almost anywhere where trees or bushes accompany open grassland, patches of dead leaves under trees, or moist ground supporting ample invertebrate food organisms.


Breeds March-June in Britain and western Europe, mid to late April in Central and East Europe, April-May in Finland. Nest site is built in trees and shrubs, often against trunk supported by twigs or branch, or among dense twigs, also in creepers on wall, on ledge, in bank, and on ground among thick vegetation. Nest is a neat structure of twigs, grass, and some moss, loose towards outside, compacted towards inside, thickly lined with hard plaster material made from mud, dung, and rotten wood, often mixed with leaves.
3-5 eggs are laid, incubation 10-17 days, by female only.

Feeding habits

Wide range of invertebrates, also fruit from late summer to winter. For foraging behaviour on grass meadow like Blackbird. Searches for food in ground litter, described as follows in captive birds, makes rapid sideways sweeping movements with bill, usually 3-8 movements in succession, occasionally almost continuous for up to 1,5 min, sometimes scratches with foot simultaneously, though such movement only slight.
Deals with snails by beating them against any hard surface, often a stone, and bird then flicks out snail’s body, picks it up, and wipes it on ground before eating it.


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.
Song Thrush status Least Concern


Mostly resident in south and west, but northern populations partially or entirely migratory; more birds move if weather severe. In contrast to (e.g.) Redwing and Fieldfare, populations show strong affinity to regular wintering areas. Most nominate philomelos from Fenno-Scandia, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and FSU are migratory, moving south-west or south-east through Europe to winter in southern England, France (mainly towards south-west), Spain, and Portugal. Those from furthest north, especially 1st-year birds, winter furthest south to Canary Islands, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Cyprus. Birds from Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and north-east France are partially resident with most others moving only short distances south or south-west, though considerable numbers from Netherlands winter in Britain and Ireland. Birds from east-central Europe winter correspondingly east of birds from Fenno-Scandia and western Europe: mainly in Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Balkans, and Cyprus. Many birds breeding Britain and Ireland (clarkei) winter north-west France, northern Spain, and Portugal to Balearics. Birds from Outer Hebrides and Skye (hebridensis) are largely sedentary but some move to Ireland.
Southward departures in autumn begin in August but main passage September to early November; movement of birds into Ireland continues even into February. Birds wintering around Mediterranean arrive mid-October with frequent influxes until mid-April. During severe weather over Europe, large-scale mid-winter arrivals occur regularly in North Africa. Returning birds leave North Africa late March to mid-April. Northward movements from Portugal, Spain, western France, and through Britain and Ireland also at this time. Movement through Netherlands, Helgoland, and Denmark begins March and continues to mid-May. Finnish birds back on breeding grounds by mid-April and those in northern Sweden by early May.

Distribution map

Song Thrush distribution range map

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