Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Come October time, keep your eyes peeled for the fieldfare returning from Scandinavia to spend winter in the UK. The noisy, colourful thrushes migrate to the British countryside annually in flocks ranging from a dozen to several hundred so they are relatively easy to spot.

Many birds migrate to the UK during the autumn months but fieldfare only tend to spend the winter months here so it is the perfect window of opportunity to spot the charismatic bird.

These large, beautiful birds are sociable animals that stand very upright and move with sprightly hops. Its distinctive rattling call- a furious chatter- makes it thoroughly enjoyable to watch. They tend to look and behave much like a mistle thrush, and you can find them on farmland along hedges and in fields.

General characteristics

Males and females are alike in appearance with the distinguished marking of a blue-grey head, pale grey rump, brown wings and a long black tail; although the females tend to be slightly browner.

Its underwings and belly are white, with a speckled yellow-ochre throat and mottled chest, so they’re fairly recognisable.

Juveniles appear duller in colour and have extensive speckling but if you’re still not sure, just wait until it takes flight and you’ll hear its loud ‘chook-chook’ call.

Where to see one

Fieldfares occur in all habitat types across the UK including woodlands, parks, grassfields and open country habitat but hawthorn hedges with berries are a favourite feeding area. You may possibly spot them in your garden if there is severe weather and the countryside is covered in snow or the ground has frozen.

The birds normally arrive in the UK at the start of October and stay here until Springtime.

What do they eat

The fieldfare’s diet predominantly consists of eating a variety of molluscs, insects and worms in the summertime; and soft grain, berries and seeds in the winter. They do love to eat fallen fruit, so try coaxing one into your garden by leaving out berries and apples.

What is the Fieldfare’s nesting behaviour

Fieldfares often nest in small colonies and are extremely skilful in defending its nest (usually in a tree) against egg-thieves. The nest is made from twigs, dry grass and lined with mud. However breeding in the UK is very rare.

Taxonomy

The current Latinate name, Turdus pilaris, can be broken down as follows: Turdus is the Latin for ‘thrush’; and pilaris is New Latin from pilus for ‘a hair.’

However our name for it originates from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘fledware’ which means ‘traveller of the fields.’

What’s so special about Chorley and Norwich

Interest in the fieldfare is UK wide however, some digging in Google revealed a peculiar connection with the town Chorley and city Norwich. Are these special bird territories or resting places?

Related topics for the term

Related topics and queries of “Fieldfare”” since 2012

Sadly not! The only reason the bird’s moniker is trending in these areas is because a family pub shares the same name…

However, wherever you live in the UK, be it Chorley or Norwich, please do send us your pictures if you spot a Fieldfare this winter. We’d love to see them and share them on our social channels.

Try the interactive Fieldfare

Fieldfares and Redwings

Fieldfares and Redwings can sometimes be observed feeding together on invertebrates and fruit.

Redwing - Turdus iliacus
Fieldfare - Turdus pilaris

Attract Fieldfares with the following food

Premium Dried mealworm

Dried mealworms are the perfect nutritional food for your garden birds. Ideal for attracting species such as Blue tits, Starlings and Blackbirds, dried mealworms can be soaked in water over night for an extra juicy treat for your birds.

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Classic suet balls

Suet is absolutely essential for birds, providing instant energy which is just what they need. Classic Suet Balls are just the job when it comes to bird feeding and are suitable for all year round use.

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