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Chats and thrushes

Female stonechat perching on heather

Image: Ben Hall

'Chats' are small, quite slender or robin-like birds with fine bills and slender legs, slim and sometimes colourful tails and short, round wings. 'Thrushes' are generally larger, often spotted underneath, but in some species, males are unspotted and clearly different from females. Many are superb songsters.

There are many thrushes worldwide; four breed in the UK and two others are regular in winter, but several more have appeared on rare occasions; chats include six regular breeders and several rare visitors.

Black redstart

The black redstart is a small robin-sized bird that has adapted to live at the heart of industrial and urban centres. Its name comes from the plumage of the male, which is grey-black in colour with a ... More...

Black redstart

Blackbird

The males live up to their name but, confusingly, females are brown often with spots and streaks on their breasts. The bright orange-yellow beak and eye-ring make adult male blackbirds one of the mos... More...

Blackbird

Bluethroat

A small robin-like bird, the male is unmistakable in spring with his bright blue throat, bordered below with bands of black, white and chestnut. Its central throat spot can be white or chestnut, depen... More...

Bluethroat

Fieldfare

Fieldfares are large, colourful thrushes, much like a mistle thrush in general size, shape and behaviour. They stand very upright and move forward with purposeful hops. They are very social birds, sp... More...

Fieldfare

Mistle thrush

This is a pale, black-spotted thrush - large, aggressive and powerful. It stands boldly upright and bounds across the ground while in flight, it has long wings and its tail has whitish edges. It is mo... More...

Mistle thrush

Nightingale

Nightingales are slightly larger than robins, with a robust, broad-tailed, rather plain brown appearance. They are skulking and extremely local in their distribution in the UK while in much of souther... More...

Nightingale

Redstart

Redstarts are immediately identifiable by their bright orange-red tails, which they often quiver. Breeding males look smart, with slate grey upper parts, black faces and wings, and an orange rump and ... More...

Redstart

Redwing

The redwing is most commonly encountered as a winter bird and is the UK's smallest true thrush. Its creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank patches make it distinctive. They roam across the UK... More...

Redwing

Ring ouzel

Slightly smaller and slimmer than a blackbird - male ring ouzels are particularly distinctive with their black plumage with a pale wing panel and striking white breast band. The ring ouzel is primaril... More...

Ring ouzel

Robin

The UK's favourite bird - with its bright red breast it is familar throughout the year and especially at Christmas! Males and females look identical, and young birds have no red breast and are spotted... More...

Robin

Song thrush

A familiar and popular garden songbird whose numbers are declining seriously, especially on farmland making it a Red List species. Smaller and browner than a mistle thrush with smaller spotting. Its h... More...

Song thrush

Stonechat

Stonechats are robin sized birds. Males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back. Females lack the male's black head, but have br... More...

Stonechat

Wheatear

The wheatear is a small mainly ground-dwelling bird. It hops or runs on the ground. It is blue-grey above with black wings and white below with an orange flush to the breast. It has a black cheek. In ... More...

Wheatear

Whinchat

The whinchat is a small perching bird. It hops or runs on the ground and often perches on top of low bushes. It has a prominent white stripe above the eye. It is streaky brown above and warm orange-bu... More...

Whinchat