What does the fieldfare look like? And what does she do in winter? We present the throttle to you in our profile.
Nowadays the field thrush can be found all year round
The fieldfare ( Turdus pilaris ) has only established itself as a breeding bird with us in the last few decades. Before that she was more at home in more northern parts of Europe. Today, however, you can see them regularly in sparse forests and larger parks. And, especially in winter, the fieldfare is also in search of food in smaller gardens. During these cold months, the colorful thrush feeds on berries, fruits and windfalls. So its name is no coincidence, because the species has long been associated with juniper and its berries in particular. Even its somewhat outdated name as “Krammetsvogel” has this origin, because “Krammet” is just an old name for juniper. You can find more exciting information about the field thrush in our profile below.
Fieldfare: fact sheet
|size||About 25 cm|
|Weight||About 120 g|
|Breeding season||March – June|
|lifespan||Up to 10 years|
|habitat||Semi-open landscapes, light forests, large parks and gardens|
|Feed preference||Earthworms, snails, berries and other fruits|
|Threats||Decline in food and natural habitat|
This is how you recognize the fieldfare
The fieldfare is similar in size and shape to its more well-known relative, the blackbird. The two species also share the yellow beak. However, there are no further similarities in appearance. Because next to the simple black blackbird, the field thrush is a real blaze of color. Her gray-blue colored head is traversed by a light stripe over the eyes. The neck of the same color merges into a red-brown back and matching wing covers. The lower back, also called rump, is also colored gray-blue and ends in dark tail feathers. The light underside is traversed by black dots and the chest shines in a strong rusty yellow. Fieldfare males and females are difficult to distinguish from each other purely visually.
The field thrush impresses with its strikingly patterned plumage
What does the fieldfare sound like?
The song of the fieldfare cannot compete with the melodious bird song of the blackbird. It consists more of a mixture of chattering and teasing – without proper structure. In contrast to singing, the fieldfare's call is much more distinctive and easy to identify. This sounds like a warning “Tscheck-tscheck-tscheck”.
The fieldfare chant sounds like this:
The fieldfare's call is easy to spot in contrast to its song
What does the young fieldfare look like?
Young field thrushes are easy to recognize because they already look very similar to the adults. All important features are already pronounced, even if the coloring is a little less intense than that of the adult birds. In addition, the young birds are characterized by white spots on the wing covers. After the first winter, the young thrushes lose their juvenile feathers and show themselves in the finished adult plumage.
Young birds can already be recognized well as fieldfare [Photo: Roman Kybus / Shutterstock.com]
How do you recognize the birds' eggs?
The approximately 3 centimeters large eggs of the fieldfare are similar to those of the closely related blackbird. They are of a blue-green base tone and covered with red-brown speckles. The female lays between five and seven eggs in a bowl-shaped nest made from plant stems and leaves, lined with wet earth and padded with fine blades of grass.
The fieldfare's eggs are similar to those of the blackbird [Photo: Vishnevskiy Vasily / Shutterstock.com]
Which habitat does the fieldfare prefer?
Fieldfare prefer semi-open habitats such as light forests, forest edges and groups of trees in the landscape. But they can also be seen in city parks and large gardens. Since the thrushes primarily look for their food in the soil, areas with low vegetation or free, moist soil are important for the choice of the breeding site.
Where do you find their nests?
Even when field thrushes search for food close to the ground, they build their nests at a safe height in the forks of branches of trees or high bushes. The breeding pairs can occur individually, but the thrushes often form colonies with up to 50 pairs. This community is particularly valuable when defending the nests against predators. Cats, corvids and birds of prey are loudly driven away with real flight attacks, in which the field thrushes use so-called “excrement bombs” to drive the attacker away.
When does the fieldfare breed?
The female lays her eggs between March and April and then incubates them for 10 to 13 days. The female takes care of the little nestlings for the first few days, after which both parents bring food regularly. After another 14 to 16 days, the young birds leave the nest and make their first attempts at flight. The parents support the young thrushes for another two weeks in their search for food, but then the little ones are on their own. Not infrequently, the successful rearing of the first young is followed by a second brood.
The young thrushes are always hungry [Photo: Dark_Side / Shutterstock.com]
What does the fieldfare do in winter?
Field thrushes are short-range migrants and migrate in winter from the northern parts of Europe towards central and southern Europe to the Mediterranean area. In the past, they were only to be found here as winter guests, but today they also breed in our latitudes. The pretty thrushes are quite gregarious in the cold winter months and often socialized in colorful flocks with starlings or red thrushes. The birds go looking for food together and like to come to our gardens and help themselves at feeding stations.
This is how you can support field thrushes
If you want to transform your garden into a fieldfare paradise or just grab the local birds under their wings and support them in their daily struggle for food and nesting sites, you will find some helpful tips and tricks here.
What do the thrushes feed on?
Fieldfare have a seasonally adjusted diet. In summer they mainly feed on earthworms and other small animals living on the ground such as snails. In the late year they then switch to windfalls, berries and other fruits. If you want to put out additional food in the cold season, you should therefore stick to this nutrition plan. Many varieties of fruit – and apples in particular – are often picked up by the fieldfare from the ground.
In the late year, field thrushes like to eat berries and other fruits
Which nest boxes are suitable for the fieldfare?
As free brooders, field thrushes prefer – as the term already suggests – to build their nest outdoors. Therefore, closed nest boxes are not a good idea. These are more suitable for cave breeders such as blue tits or starlings. If you want to try your luck, you should rely on so-called half-cave boxes, which have a large entrance opening instead of just a small hole.
How can you give field thrushes additional support?
Since nest boxes are not the first choice to support fieldfare, more focus should be placed on creating natural nesting sites. High hedges and well-branched trees are a must for every field of a fieldfare. And those who do not have a sufficiently large garden for such structures can concentrate on the food supply. Because in addition to the additional feeding in winter, you can also provide enough feed in summer by leaving areas with low vegetation where the thrushes can search for food.
In addition, a healthy soil life is important for the diet of the fieldfare, which satisfies the appetites of their offspring and their own, mainly with earthworms. With our Plantura organic soil activator you can improve the life of the soil in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way and thus lay a healthy foundation for your garden, your plants and our feathered friends.
In addition to the fieldfare, the blackbird also has other patterned relatives who like to roam around in home gardens. The song thrush, for example, has an even more dotted underside than the field thrush, but it has a rather plain upper side without blue-gray color elements. You can also get to know this garden bird and its many other characteristics in our species portrait.