Fieldfare

Turdus pilaris

25.5cm

Appearance

The Fieldfare is quite a stout bird with a dark streaked bluish grey head, a pale stripe over the eye, generously spotted orangey-yellow flanks and breast, chestnut wings and back, and a grey rump. The tail and flight feathers are black, and when flying, the underneath of the wings is white. Juvenile resembles adult Fieldfare but there are whitish spots at the base of the wings.

Habitat

Orchards are common in winter, and it also tends towards hedgerows. Open farmland is another likely habitat, and Fieldfares usually feed near woods and dense hedge cover.

Character

Has an upright stance and is usually in smallish flocks in the region, though they're quite vocal; may mingle with Starlings and other thrushes. Migrating flocks are usually bigger, and winter flocks move as required in order to find areas where food is abundant. May breed colonially or stick to their pairs, and they have a habit of defecating on predators near nests whenever possible.

Food

Diet includes insects and larvae, worms and other invertebrates, and berries.

Breeding

Breeding is uncommon in the region, but in other habitats it begins in April or May. Female lays 5 or 6 eggs which she incubates for 11-14 days. Both of the parents feed the hatchlings, which fledge at around 12-15 days old; they gain independence after 30 days or so.

Population

This is a common winter visitor but a rare breeding bird of the region. Majority of migrants turn up in October and November, though they keep trickling in until the middle of winter. They depart the region between March and May. A pair or two is occasionally discovered breeding, but otherwise the region's winter population is around 720 000 individuals.

Observation Tips

Fieldfares are attracted to areas with fallen fruits, and they will move territories depending on where food is most readily available. It is worth leaving some fruits on the ground of a garden to see if any birds are lured in; otherwise they can be seen across the region in winter, usually in moderately large flocks.

Voice

Has a 'chacker-chak-chak' call, and an 'ee-eep' most commonly heard while flying. The gentle, fluty song is rarely heard in the region.
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