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Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush
Both sexes: Grey-brown upperparts, whitish underparts with bold black spots.

The Mistle Thrush, Missel Thrush or Stormcock is bigger and paler than a Song Thrush and has bolder spotting on its breast and belly.

The upperparts of the Mistle Thrush are grey-brown. The breast and flanks are a pale buff with bold black spots, which are scattered all over the underparts. The wing feathers have pale edges, which gives the appearance of a pale patch on the wing when seen from a distance.

In flight, the Mistle Thrush usually flies at tree top height with several wing beats separated by short glides. The underside of the wings is white

Fieldfare & Mistle Thrush Underwing Redwing Underwing Song Thrush Underwing
Comparison of Underwing Colours

Juveniles are pale and heavily spotted on the upperparts.

Mistle Thrush
Mistle Thrush

Scientific Name Turdus viscivorus
Length 27 cm  (11")
Wing Span 42-48 cm  (16-19")
Weight 110-140 g  (4-5 oz)
Breeding Pairs 230000
Present All Year
Status Red

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The Mistle Thrush's alarm call is like a football rattle or machine gun.

Their dreamy song is loud and far reaching and often heard during stormy weather, hence its alternative name of Stormcock.


© Jean Roché,
Alarm Call

© Jean Roché,


The Mistle Thrush's diet is the same as the Song Thrush's: insects, worms, slugs but rarely snails, and berries, such as yew, rowan, hawthorn and holly.

In the winter, a Mistle Thrush will often vigorously defend a berry laden bush from other thrushes.


The bulky grass-lined nest of grass, roots, moss, leaves and earth is built by the female, usually in the fork of a tree but also in shrubs and walls.

The smooth, glossy pale blue eggs have reddish-brown spots, and are approximately 31 mm by 22 mm. The female incubates the eggs by herself. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
February-May 2 3-6 12-15 16-20


The Mistle Thrush is resident with most birds being sedentary, but some do migrate; for example, some Scottish birds winter in Ireland and others make it to France. A few Scandinavian and northern European Mistle Thrushes winter in the UK, especially down the east coast.

Juveniles disperse in July.


The population of Mistle Thrushes has diminished since the mid-1970s, especially in farmland areas, and so they appear on the Red List, though some surveys suggest this decline may have halted.