The Song Thrush
Turdus philomelos, otherwise known as the Song Thrush, makes its home in the hedgerows, woods, gardens and thickets of the UK. The garden, in particular, has become an important breeding habitat for the Song Thrush, with British gardens making up some 71.5% of the Song Thrush territories - for comparison, farmland accounts for just 3.5%.
71.5% is an enormous figure, especially when you consider that the suitable garden territory is just 2% of the total available area of the UK. The other remaining Song Thrush nests can be found in copses and woodland, which account for 1% of the available habitat in the country. (according to the last study conducted, in 1998. Because agricultural practices have barely changed since then, it is reasonable to assume the territorial habits of the Song Thrush have not altered much either).
Protecting the Song Thrush
Song Thrushes need a certain type of environment to survive, one with suitable nesting sites and an abundant food source. Most gardens today are able to supply both of these things, but with 71.5% of the nesting population in just 2% of the total available area competition is fierce and this naturally leads to shortages.
The Song Thrush population has been in decline since the 1970s, and has in fact fell by 65-70% since then. The humble garden is where is the future of the Song Thrush will be decided, so what can we do to help protect this once thriving bird?
A Song Thrush’s natural diet consists of worms, snails, garden insects and berries. Placing a small bird table in your garden, or hanging bird feeder is a great way to provide these wonderful birds with all the nourishment they need.
Your bird feeder, for example, can be filled with small fruit such as raisins and small pieces of apple, mealworms and mealworm crumble. Mealworms are an especially good choice in winter when protein rich foods are in short supply for the Song Thrush.
Having a water source in your garden is also a great way to help attract and sustain your local Song Thrush families and who knows, maybe you will be lucky enough to have one nest in your garden!
Recognising the Song Thrush
Sometimes misidentified as a starling, even though the Song Thrush is slightly larger and lighter in colour, the Song Thrush is just a little smaller than a blackbird. Preferring to fly below treetop level and from bush to bush, a pleasant, although somewhat plain brown back is highlighted by a black-spotted, cream underpart which becomes paler toward the belly.
The underside of a Song Thrush wing is a warm yellow colour and its bill is yellow. Pink feet and legs are a standout colour, especially against a bird feeder or table. The Song Thrush is relatively easy to identify, particular after the first ‘spotting’.
Somewhat ironically, given the name, the Song Thrush’s ‘song’ can be fairly repetitive, with the bird producing the same musical phrases several times over. When in full voice, however, the song is beautiful.
Now more than ever, the Song Thrush needs our help in securing its own future. A small pond or birdbath and a low table or bird feeder with small fruits and mealworms can make all the difference to a dwindling population of beautiful songbirds.