Mistle Thrush

Turdus viscivorusMistle Thrush

This bold, territorial bird is the largest of the native thrushes, and gets its name from its appetite for mistletoe berries.  You will occasionally see it standing upright in the open, though more often it will be heard singing from the top of a tall tree.  Indeed, its habit of singing during winter storms has earned it the nickname of ‘the storm cock’.

 Description:  The Mistle Thrush stands about 10 ½ in (27 cm) tall.  It has a grey-brown back, with a distinctive chestnut spots on its pale breast and white outer tail feathers.  When it flies, the white patches under its wings flash.  Male and female are similar.  It is larger than the Song Thrush, and has clearer spots on its breast.  The Mistle Thrush’s song is loud and rather harsh, with repeated phrases, and it also has a distinctive rattling call.

 Nesting and breeding:  The Mistle Thrush is an early breeder, with its breeding season running from late February to June.  It builds a cup-shaped nest of grass, twigs and moss, usually high up in a tree.  The female usually lays 2 broods of 4 pale blue eggs which hatch after 14 days.  Both adults then feed the young for about a month, though they leave the nest after 14 days. 

Where to see them

  • Mistle Thrushes are widespread in Britain, except for the Scottish Isles and are most abundant in the south. They are largely non-migratory 
  • They are present all year round, in pairs during the breeding season and in larger family groups from late summer onwards
  • They need tall trees for nesting, and feed in open grassland, moorland and large lawns  
  • The Mistle Thrush population declined at the end of the last century, placing it on the RSPB's 'Amber' list, though numbers now seem to be stabilising
  • What they eat

  • Mistle Thrushes feed on insects, earthworms and slugs, and on fruit and wild berries 
  • They will aggressively defend a good source of food, such as a berry-laden yew tree
  •  They occasionally visit gardens if they discover a good, regular source of food there. They feed on the ground
  • Recommended Farbrook Farm foods: Premium Softbill Mix, Dried Mealworms
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