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Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Turdidae | [latin] Turdus pilaris | [UK] Fieldfare | [FR] Grive litorne | [DE] Wacholderdrossel | [ES] Zorzal Real | [IT] Cesena | [NL] Kramsvogel



spanwidth min.: 39 cm

spanwidth max.: 42 cm

size min.: 22 cm

size max.: 27 cm


incubation min.: 10 days

incubation max.: 13 days

fledging min.: 12 days

fledging max.: 15 days

broods 2

eggs min.: 5

eggs max.: 7


Physical characteristics


Large, bold, long-tailed, often noisy thrush, with rather rakish form both on ground and in the air. Plumage more boldly variegated and richly colored than any other west Palearctic thrush, with blue-grey head, vinous-chestnut back, grey rump, and almost black tail obvious on ground, and heavily speckled breast and flanks, white vent, and black undertail obvious from below. Combination of grey rump, black tail, and white underwing diagnostic. Flight characteristically leisurely. Commonest call diagnostic. Sexes closely similar, little seasonal variation.




Breeds in middle and higher latitudes of west Palearctic, in subarctic, boreal, and temperate zones, in woods of birch, pine, spruce, alder, and mixed species, usually in open growth or on fringes of moist areas with grass cover. Often along rivers or in groups of trees in fens or bogs, in sheltered but cool and humid situations.


Other details


Turdus pilaris is a widespread breeder in central and northern Europe, but winters across much of the continent, which constitutes >75% of its global wintering range. Insufficient information was available to assess the species's status using wintering population data, but its European breeding population is extremely large (>14,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Breeding populations in most countries (including Russia) were stable or increased during 1990-2000, and the species probably remained stable overall.

This thrush inhabits a major part of Eurasia, from central Europe and Scandinavia to eastern Siberia. It is a species of the taiga, which has considerably extended its breeding area to the west, and colonised Iceland and Greenland. Inside the European Union it has colonised Belgium, the Netherlands and eastern France. Most birds are migratory and winter in western and southern Eur




Wide range of invertebrates, also fruits from late summer to early winter. Feeds on ground and in trees and bushes. When collecting food for young, adult usually eats small items itself, will collect items in a pile before carrying them off.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 28,000,000-48,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




Breeds late Apr to late June in Scandinavia, May-June in Lapland. Nest site is in tree, placed in crotch of branch against trunk, or on side branch, exceptionally on ground or in depression anmong rock. Nest, bulky though compact structure with outer parts of grass reinforced with twigs, roots, etc, lined with thick layer of mud, and inner lining of fine grasses and a few roots. 5-6 eggs, incubation 10-13 days, by female only.




Migratory, though in some years of winter abundance of food some resident or move only short distances. Winters mainly in western, central, and southern Europe, Turkey, and Iran, also south to Canary Islands and Persian Gulf states. Usually reaches southernmost parts of Europe only in bad winters and rarely occurs on North African coast in good numbers. Birds flock prior to departure, becoming increasingly restless and making local movements. Spring passage generally more visible than in autumn with some impressive continual movements of birds often totalling several thousand passing along lines of hills or valleys in a matter of hours. Sudden movements of large numbers as a consequence of severe weather are commonplace across the entire wintering range. Individuals do not necessarily return to same area in successive winters with some subsequently recovered in winter up to 1600 km distant. Southward migration begins late September or early October and continues into November. Return often begins early, birds wintering in south-central Europe making partial return movements in February. Main arrivals in Norway from mid-April and in Sweden and Finland from late April.

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Taken on December 18, 2016