Mistle thrust is a fiesty bird
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 email@example.com