Winter visitors, 24 January 2013.

Post date: Jan 24, 2013 5:36:05 PM

With the arrival of the snows on 18 January in Bristol, the Green has seen some delightful winter visitors: Fieldfares (left) and Redwings (right), both members of the Chat and Thrush family (Turdidae).

Keep an eye out for them! They might not be here long, as they may move on in search of new sources of food.

The RSPB lists both Redwings and Fieldfares as species of “red” status. This means that the species have suffered severe population declines, and are a high conservation priority.

Both species migrate to Britain for the winter from Northern Europe. Fieldfares arrive in October and return in March to their breeding grounds; Redwings start to arrive in September, and leave in March to April.

Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) are about the size of Mistle Thrushes (22-27cm), a bit larger than blackbirds. Somewhere in the region of 720,000 birds winter in Britain. They are social birds, and most likely to be seen in flocks anywhere from a dozen or so to several hundred in size. Fieldfare flocks also mix with Redwing groups. They are quite shy birds, and difficult to get close to.

The males and females of both species look alike. Fieldfares have a white underside, heavily spotted, with a reddish tinge to the breast. The back of the head and their rumps are grey. They eat berries, worms and insects. If you’d like to hear what their song is like, click here.

The Redwing (Turdus iliacus) is the UK’s smallest thrush (20-24cm). Somewhere in the region of 685,000 birds migrate here. They mostly eat berries and worms. As you can see from the photos above, they are extremely attractive birds. Males and females alike have red underwings, red flanks, and a cream coloured stripe above the eye. Click here to hear their song.