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Fieldfare

Fieldfare Fieldfare Both Sexes
Grey head and rump, chestnut-brown back, and yellow-brown speckled breast.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Turdus pilaris
Length: 25 cm  (10")
Wing Span: 39-42 cm  (16-17")
Weight: 80-120 g  (2¾-4¼oz)  
Breeding Pairs: < 10
Present: Winter
Status: Red

Description

The Fieldfare is a large thrush - just a little smaller than the Mistle Thrush - with very bold plumage. They are winter visitors from Scandinavia.

Adult male and female Fieldfares are similar in appearance, except that the female is generally duller and browner.

The male has blue-grey crown, nape, and rump; chestnut brown back; black tail; and a buff breast with black streaks that also extends to the flanks. The underwing, especially the "armpit", is white, and it is this and the pale grey rump that are most noticeable when in flight.

The juveniles lack the grey head and are duller.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Calls
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

The song of the Fieldfare is a medley of whistles and "chacks".

We are more likely to hear the "chack" calls as they fly over during the winter.

Feeding

The Fieldfare feeds on worms, snails and insects but also fruit.

In the winter they will feed on windfall fruit for long periods and are often accompanied by Redwings.

Nesting

The nest is cup-shaped and made from grass, moss and twigs, and lined with mud. There are very few Fieldfares breeding in Britain.

The eggs of the Fieldfare are about 29 mm by 21 mm in size, and are smooth, glossy, and pale blue with reddish speckles. The duties of incubating the eggs are performed by the female. The newly-hatched young are fed by both adults.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April-June 1-2 3-8 11-14 12-16

Movements

The Scandinavian Fieldfares usually arrive in Britain in October and early November and stay here until the Spring (March-May), during which time there can be up to 750 000 birds.

Conservation

The Fieldfare is specially protected as it is such a rare breeding bird in Britain. In the 1990s it looked as if the westward expansion of breeding Fieldfares may reach Britain, but this no longer seems likely.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

There have been few Fieldfares in recent winters; they have not even been attracted by windfall fruit. This behaviour has been noted elsewhere and a possible explanation is that winter thrushes - Fieldfares and Redwings - are finding invertebrates in the ground, which is remaining frost-free owing to global climate change. This may be just as well as hedge-flailing is removing the berries from hedgerows that Fieldfares and other winter thrushes would be feeding on.

During the stormy weather and first snows of Winter 1999 a small flock of Fieldfares flew through, resting only briefly in a neighbour's sycamore tree. A few were also seen in winter 2002.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
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