Do Thrushes Migrate? – Two Species to Look Out For This Winter

by Russ on November 30, 2013

Mistle and Song Thrushes have cream stomachs with many brown speckles covering it.Throughout the year, Britain has three common species of thrush, the Blackbird, the Mistle Thrush ans the Song Thrush.

In the winter months, these birds will stay in Britain where pairs and family groups will set up a territory around a fruiting berry tree. They will defend their home fiercely over the next few months, ensuring they have enough to see them through winter. Our thrushes always have light brown backs with a speckled stomach.

But their relatives in Northern Europe have a harder decision to make. Their home is going to get much colder than here and there will be less food. So every year, thousands of birds choose to flock to Britain for the winter. Among them are two familiar looking birds with a bit of a difference. They are both relatives of our thrushes and can be seen now across the country.


Redwings are our smallest Thrush and are often bullied by larger species.The Redwing is Britain’s smallest species of Thrush. They usually travel in small flocks and from arriving on the East coast will travel Southwards, stopping on berry trees along the way. You can identify the Redwing by looking for:

  1. A small body
  2. Red colouration under the wings
  3. A white stripe above the eye
We spotted a small flock of these birds recently at Summerseat Garden Centre just before our Winter Wildlife Talk.


Fieldfare's gather in large flocks and can strip Rowan Trees bare.The Fieldfare is larger than the Redwing and can also be seen travelling around our countryside in large flocks. They can often be spotted in open fields in farmland and uplands. Watch out for:

  1. White and brown specks on chest
  2. Reddish-brown chest colouration
  3. Slate-blue head and tail feathers
  4. Dark red wing feathers

Both of these species love Rowan and other berry trees. Have you seen any Redwings or Fieldfare’s so far? If you have we’d like to hear from you!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane Bouttell October 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Very windy walk on Winterton beach, Norfolk, today (October 5.) In a 1 and 1/2 mile stretch we found the partly eaten bodies of four robin sized birds on the shore line. Only the last remains had enough detail for possible identification viz. – dark brown back, head, wings and shortish tail, reddish passerine legs and feet, brown and reddish thrush-like beak. Bronze underwing near to the body and white breast with large dark speckles. Possibly redwing? Seagulls were eating the remains of another.


Russ October 11, 2016 at 8:03 am

Hi Jane. Difficult to tell from the remains – as gruesome as it is did you get a picture. The biggest thing that suggests it isn’t a redwing is that it should have a orange/red colour under the wing. If it doesn’t have that it may be something else.


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