Mis­tle thrust is a fi­esty bird

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

MIS­TLE thrushes get their name be­cause they are known to de­vour mistle­toe berries.

How­ever this di­etary habit is more preva­lent on the Con­ti­nent than in Bri­tain, where mistle­toe is no longer com­mon, so our mis­tle thrushes are happy with a va­ri­ety of red berries.

The mis­tle thrush is our largest res­i­dent thrush and is also known as the storm­cock. This is be­cause they will de­fend their ter­ri­to­ries pas­sion­ately from high trees, what­ever the weather.

I spot­ted two pairs of mis­tle thrushes in the County Durham coun­try­side last week which sug­gests they both paired up as well as es­tab­lish­ing ter­ri­to­ries.

In fact it’s not un­usual for mis­tle thrushes to lay their first eggs be­fore the end of Fe­bru­ary, which also gives them the op­por­tu­ni­ties to raise up to three broods ev­ery year.

They de­fend their nest­ing ar­eas vig­or­ously and will not only take on and chase away crows, but also the smaller rap­tors such as spar­rowhawks.

We don’t see too many mis­tle thrushes in ur­ban ar­eas on Teesside al­though I saw two feed­ing on the grass out­side New­cas­tle Civic Cen­tre last year.

Mis­tle thrushes are sim­i­lar to song thrushes, but there are no­tice­ably larger, tend to have a more up­right stance and have greyer backs, in ad­di­tion to larger spots.

This fine pic­ture, above, of a mis­tle thrush was taken by John Money at Hob Hole in North York­shire.

You are quite likely to spot mis­tle thrushes feed­ing in low grass­land dur­ing a coun­try walk while they are also easy to pick out at this time of year in leaf­less trees.

Their song is quite dif­fer­ent from the melodic tones of a song thrush and has been com­pared to the sound of a foot­ball rat­tle.

Thanks to the many read­ers who have emailed to tell me they re­ceive reg­u­lar vis­its from goldfinches to their gar­dens.

How­ever some read­ers have had suc­cess with ny­jer seeds, while oth­ers have not.

John Por­ley, who re­ceives vis­its from many dif­fer­ent species in his gar­den, which backs on to wood­land, said: “I gave up on the ny­jer seed a long time ago when the birds showed lit­tle in­ter­est.

“Sun­flower hearts are what my goldfinches love and they are much cheaper than the ny­jer seed which must be the most ex­pen­sive bird seed in the world!

“I have a flock of about eight goldfinches who are reg­u­lar vis­i­tors and ar­rive hourly, not just daily, while I also have a pair of green­finches which are be­com­ing reg­u­lar vis­i­tors.”

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.