Species of the day: Song Thrush

24 March 2020 | Posted in James Duncan
Species of the day: Song Thrush
© James Duncan

By James Duncan

Learning & Engagement Officer

The Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) is one of our most familiar and popular song birds. Its distinctive, boldly charismatic repertoire has inspired people over countless generations. It may lack the improvisatory genius of the Nightingale and even the melodic tones of the Blackbird but there's little doubt this attractive songster holds a special place in our hearts.

The most recognisable feature of Song Thrush song is undoubtedly repetition. This was beautifully expressed by Robert Browning in Home Thoughts from Abroad

"That's the wise thrush, he sings each song twice over

Lest you should think he never could recapture

The first fine careless rapture!" 

In days gone by the Song Thrush was more frequently known under the name 'throstle' with 'thrush' being reserved for the larger Mistle Thrush. The ancestry of this term seems to date back to the fourteenth century, referenced in this way by both Chaucer and Shakespeare. More unusually, in parts of the Uk (predominantly in Scotland) the plucky thrush is even referred to as a 'mavis.' Whatever the name, the fact remains that hearing a Song Thrush is perhaps one of the most uplifting sounds to be heard in our countryside. It's something we can enjoy hearing from November through to July, though very sadly its numbers have declined significantly in recent years classifying it as a red listed bird of the highest conservation priority.

Song Thrush1

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