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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Hebridean Song Thrush

Bird Sightings : Hebridean Song Thrush

Hebridean Song Thrush

(Throstle, Mavis)

Turdus philomelos hebridensis

Gaelic: Smeòrach


Photograph © Debbie Bozkurt
Balivanich Beach - Benbecula - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
29th October, 2006


Our Hebridean Song Thrush photographs

Song Thrush
Song Thrush
Song Thrush


  • Song Thrush
  • Turdus philomelos
  • Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK RED LIST, 1 million pairs (summer) BTO
  • WI: Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
  • Breeding: Nest: tidy mud-lined cup nest bush or tree, or if the Hebridean species then on the ground. Lays 4-5 bright glossy blue eggs with black or purple spotting.
  • Distribution: Europe, Asia, (New Zealand & Australia introduced)
  • Habitat: Woodland (deciduous & coniferous), farmland, scrubland, villages, towns, parks - shy bird likes cover nearby
  • Diet: Omnivorous: fruit, snails, winkles, invertebrates (worms prefered!)
  • Brown upperparts, black-spotted buff underparts. Smaller & browner with smaller spots than much rarer mistlethrush. Repeats it's song phrases
  • Maximum recorded age 8yrs, average lifespan 3 years
  • Listen to a Song Thrush (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Mistlethrush, Redwing


Often you can hear a Song Thrush smashing winkles on a stone at a rocky shore, or shattering snail shells against a stone inland. You may come across this stone which is known as the thrush's "anvil" - the ground around it littered with broken shells.


The male Song Thrush perches high in trees or on rooftops to sing, where it repeats it's musical phrases two to four times. The most widespread species in the UK sings November to July, our Hebridean race sings from February to June.

An individual male Song Thrush may have a repertoire of more than 100 phrases, and may mimic other birds, ringing telephones etc.

The Song Thrush was taken to New Zealand and Australia by settlers in the 18th Century, it thrived in New Zealand and is now one of the commonest garden birds there.


Hebridean Song Thrush records in the Western Isles

Turdus philomelos hebridensis is a fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
Turdus philomelos and /or clarkei are uncommon passage or winter visitors (low numbers)

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Hebridean Song Thrush is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)


The Hebridean Song Thrush Turdus philomelos hebridensis is the resident race in the islands, these birds have a dark-brown back, greyish rump (above tail), pale buff base colour to the underparts and grey-tinged flanks. There are ringing records of some of these wintering in Ireland.

The other species are more common around Stornoway. Birds of these races have warmer-brown upperparts, an olive-tinged rump and a rich yellow base colour to the underparts.

The two species intergrade and birds may be found with intermeadiate characteristics.

Photographs of the nominate species of Song Thrush for comparison. (External Site)



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

Debbie's online photo album

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