Saturday, 4 February 2017

Bird of the week - Redwing

This small and beautiful thrush is a winter visitor.  It is usually quite wary and prefers to feed in flocks in open fields or on berry trees.  Later in the winter it is more likely to be seen in gardens as natural food becomes less abundant.  This one came into my garden to eat an apple while the blackbirds weren't looking.

Redwings nest in Scandinavia and Iceland

and arrive here in October.

I couldn't find any BTO long-term population trend data (probably because it is a winter visitor) but this graph is of garden sightings submitted to Garden BirdWatch.

There is a very small breeding population in northern Scotland but the winter visitors spread right across lowland parts of the British Isles.

The redwing is Turdus iliacus, turdus meaning thrush and iliacus meaning flank.  Despite the large number of winter visitors it is red listed in the UK because of the very small and dwindling breeding population.  It is also listed as near threatened in Europe.  

Thomas Bewick engraved this redwing for A History of British Birds (1797).  I read that both swinepipe and wind thrush are corruptions of wine thrush, meaning the thrush that likes grapes.

He also had this to say about it.

This is Archibald Thorburn's painting of a fieldfare and a redwing.

You can watch a BTO video on identification of winter thrushes here.  Listen to Chris Watson's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on redwing here.


  1. I only found out what these pretty birds are recently after I spotted some on a bit of grass near a busy bus stop in Ealing. They didn't seem very shy but perhaps they were just hungry.

  2. I saw about 8 in Ealing today - couldn't believe it!