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What is a Mavis? Am I right in thinking it is a female song thrush?

Sent in by John Giles, Salford, Lancashire

Mavis is indeed a colloquial name for the song thrush but but can refer to both male and female birds. It appears to have been used in East Anglia, Ireland and Scotland and is certainly a name for this thrush which I have heard before.

The name Mavis appears in Chaucer and was used by other Middle English poets. It comes from the French word mauvis and may be of Celtic origin.

It was used by Shakespeare, as was the word throstle for song thrush, which, in East Anglia, refers to the mistle thrush. Just to confuse things, in southwest Scotland Mavis is generally the word used for the mistle thrush with throstle referring to the song thrush.

Other names for the song thrush include dirsh, thrusher, thirstle and throggle and for the mistle thrush, skirlock, gawthrush, felfit and stormcock.

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