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23 February 2007
Snr Wildlife Adviser
I have worked in Wildlife Enquiries for almost 20 years but am still amazed at the tremendous variety of queries that come our way. I am not an avid birdwatcher but do study those visiting my garden very closely. I am, however, a keen conservationist and try to do my bit to live a greener life. I love being able to share my knowledge with the people who come to us for advice and information.
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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