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Song thrush

Song thrush foraging on woodland floor

Image: Steve Round

One of the first signs of an approaching spring is to hear the loud piping call of the song thrush as it sings from the top of a chimney, roof or television aerial.

Such is its song's popularity, that it topped an RSPB poll of the nation's favourite songbirds.

In the urban and suburban environment, the song thrush is associated with mature, established gardens that have thick shrubberies and where the surrounding wider landscape is similarly mature and well wooded.

The 59% population decline between the 1970s and late 1990s has been attributed to loss of habitat and suitable summer food resources.   

Remnants of snail shell on the ground next to an 'anvil', such as a stone, are a sure sign that you have song thrushes visiting your garden.

The birds hold a snail in their beaks and smash the shell against the hard surface with great vigour to get to the soft inside. Song thrushes can draw attention to themselves through the repeated tapping sound that is produced!

What do song thrushes need?

  • Song thrushes feed mainly on invertebrates - in particular worms and snails. Earthworms are especially important in winter and spring.
  • As the ground begins to dry, snails and other small insects form the bulk of their diet.
  • The fruits of trees and shrubs are eaten during autumn and winter.
  • They need thick vegetation in which to feed and nest. Dense, thorny bushes offer protection against predators.
  • The moist, humid conditions created by a thick shrubbery with a rich leaf litter provide ideal conditions for the insects they eat. 
  • In gardens, they will also nest in wall shrubs and climbers - honeysuckle and ivy are favourites. 

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Bird guide