mistle thrush
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The mistle thrush (''Turdus viscivorus'') is a bird common to much of Europe,
temperate Asia The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) is a biogeography, biogeographical system developed by the international Biodiversity Information Standards, Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) organization, formerly ...

temperate Asia
and North Africa. It is a year-round resident in a large part of its range, but northern and eastern populations
migrate Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum le ...
south for the winter, often in small flocks. It is a large
thrush Thrush may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * THRUSH, an organization in the television program ''The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'' * Mistle Thrush (band), an alternative rock band based in Boston, Massachusetts * Thrush Hermit, a Canadian alter ...
with pale grey-brown upper parts, a greyish-white chin and throat, and black spots on its pale yellow and off-white under parts. The sexes are similar in
plumage Plumage ( "feather") is a layer of feather Feathers are epidermal growths that form a distinctive outer covering, or plumage Plumage ( "feather") is a layer of feather Feathers are epidermal growths that form a distinctive outer ...
, and its three
subspecies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interacti ...
show only minimal differences. The male has a loud, far-carrying song which is delivered even in wet and windy weather, earning the bird the old name of stormcock. Found in open woods, parks, hedges and cultivated land, the mistle thrush feeds on a wide variety of
invertebrate Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the chordata, chordate subphylum vertebrate, Vertebra ...
s, seeds and berries. Its preferred fruits include those of the
mistletoe Mistletoe is the common name for obligate{{wiktionary, obligate As an adjective, obligate means "by necessity" (antonym '' facultative'') and is used mainly in biology in phrases such as: * Obligate aerobe 300px, Aerobic and anaerobic bacte ...

mistletoe
,
holly ''Ilex'' (), or holly, is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxon ...

holly
and
yew Yew is a common name given to various species of trees. The name is most prominently given to any of various coniferous Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants The spermatophytes (; ), also known as phanerogams (taxon Phanerogamae ...
. Mistletoe is favoured where it is available, and this is reflected in the thrush's English and scientific names; the plant, a
parasitic Parasitism is a Symbiosis, close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the Host (biology), host, causing it some harm, and is adaptation (biology), adapted structurally to this w ...
species, benefits from its seeds being excreted by the thrush onto branches where they can
germinate Germination is the process by which an organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biolog ...
. In winter, a mistle thrush will vigorously defend mistletoe clumps or a holly tree as a food reserve for when times are hard. The open
cup nest A bird nest is the spot in which a bird lays and Avian incubation, incubates its egg (biology), eggs and raises its young. Although the term popularly refers to a specific structures built by animals, structure made by the bird itself—such as ...
is built against a trunk or in a forked branch, and is fearlessly defended against potential predators, sometimes including humans or cats. The
clutch A clutch is a mechanical device that engages and disengages power transmission Transmission may refer to: Science and technology * Power transmissionPower transmission is the movement of energy from its place of generation to a location wh ...
, typically of three to five eggs, is
incubated
incubated
for 12–15 days, mainly by the female. The chicks
fledge Fledging is the stage in a flying animal A number of animals are capable of aerial locomotion, either by powered flight or by gliding (flight), gliding. This trait has appeared by evolution many times, without any single common ancestor. Fl ...
about 14–16 days after hatching. There are normally two broods. There was a range expansion in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and a small decline in recent decades, perhaps due to changes in agricultural practices. Given its high numbers and very large range, this thrush is classified by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an international organization An international organization (also known as an international institut ...
as being of
least concern A least-concern species is a species that has been Conservation status, categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as evaluated as not being a focus of species conservation because the specific species is still plenti ...
.


Taxonomy

The mistle thrush was first described by
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble social class, class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nob ...

Carl Linnaeus
in his 1758
10th edition of ''Systema Naturae'' 1 (one, also called unit, and unity) is a number and a numerical digit used to represent that number in numeral system, numerals. It represents a single entity, the unit (measurement), unit of counting or measurement. For example, a line segmen ...
under its current
scientific name In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only ...
.Linnaeus (1758) p. 168. ''Turdus'' is the Latin for "thrush", and ''viscivorus'', "mistletoe eater", comes from ''viscum'' "mistletoe" and ''vorare'', "to devour".Brookes (2006) p. 952.Jobling (2010) p. 393.Jobling (2010) p. 404. The bird's liking for
mistletoe Mistletoe is the common name for obligate{{wiktionary, obligate As an adjective, obligate means "by necessity" (antonym '' facultative'') and is used mainly in biology in phrases such as: * Obligate aerobe 300px, Aerobic and anaerobic bacte ...

mistletoe
berries is also indicated by its English name, "mistle" being an old name for the plant. There are more than 60 species of medium to large thrushes in the genus ''Turdus'', characterised by rounded heads, longish pointed wings, and usually melodious songs.Clement et al. (2000) pp. 36–38. A
mitochondrial DNA Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA or mDNA) is the DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five car ...

mitochondrial DNA
study identified the mistle thrush's closest relatives as the similarly plumaged
song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...

song
and
Chinese thrush The Chinese thrush (''Turdus mupinensis'') is a species of bird in the family Turdidae. It is found in China and far northern Vietnam. Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. A recent molecul ...
es; these three species are early offshoots from the Eurasian lineage of ''Turdus'' thrushes after they spread north from Africa. They are less closely related to other European thrush species such as the
blackbird Blackbird, blackbirds, black bird or black birds may refer to: Birds Two groups of birds in the parvorder Passerida: * New World blackbirds, family Icteridae * Old World blackbirds, any of several species belonging to the genus ''Turdus'' in the ...

blackbird
(''T. merula'') which are descended from ancestors that had colonised the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles ...
islands from Africa and subsequently reached Europe from there. At least eight
subspecies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interacti ...
have been proposed, but the differences between them are mainly clinal, with birds being paler and less densely spotted in the east of the range. The accepted subspecies as of 2000 are:Clement et al. (2000) pp. 397–491. * ''Turdus viscivorus viscivorus'', named by
Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomi ...

Linnaeus
,
1758 Events January–March * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modi ...
, the
nominate subspecies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interacti ...
. * ''T. v. bonapartei'',
Cabanis Cabanis is the surname of: * George Cabanis (1815-1892), American politician *Jean Cabanis (1816–1906), German ornithologist *José Cabanis (1922–2000), French writer, historian and magistrate *Pierre Jean George Cabanis (1757-1808), French ...
, 1860. * ''T. v. deichleri'',
Erlanger
Erlanger
, 1897. An isolated population in
Crimea Crimea; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería/Taurikḗ is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural ...

Crimea
has sometimes been separated as ''T. v. tauricus'', but this is not considered to be a valid form. Mistle thrush fossils have been found in
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
deposits from Poland and Sicily.


Description

The mistle thrush is the largest thrush native to Europe. The nominate subspecies measures in length, with a wingspan. It weighs , with an average of around . It has a stocky upright posture when on the ground. It has pale grey-brown upperparts, the chin and throat are greyish-white, and the yellowish-buff breast and off-white belly are marked with round black spots. The spotting becomes denser on the lower chest, giving the appearance of a breast-band. The long tail has white tips on the outer feathers, and the underwing
coverts A covert feather or tectrix on a bird is one of a set of feathers, called coverts (or ''tectrices''), which, as the name implies, cover other feathers. The coverts help to smooth airflow over the wings and tail. Ear coverts The ear coverts are sma ...
are white. The eyes are dark brown and the bill is blackish with a yellowish base to the lower
mandible In anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of li ...

mandible
. The legs and feet are yellowish-brown. There are no plumage differences between the sexes. Juveniles are similar to adults, but they have paler upperparts with creamy centres to many of the feathers and smaller spots on the yellowish underparts. By their first winter they are very similar to adults, but the underparts are usually more buff-toned. The eastern subspecies ''T. v. bonapartei'' is in length, and therefore slightly larger than the nominate form. It is paler grey above and whiter below, with fewer black spots. Birds of intermediate appearance are seen west of the
Ob River The Ob ( rus, Обь, p=opʲ: Ob') is a major river in Russia. It is in western Siberia; and together with Irtysh forms the world's List of rivers by length, seventh-longest river system, at . It forms at the confluence of the Biya (river), Biya a ...

Ob River
where the range overlaps with ''viscivorus''. The southern race ''T. v. deichleri'' resembles ''bonapartei'' in appearance, but is closer in size to the nominate ''viscivorus'', although it has a more slender bill. Adults have a full
moult In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...

moult
after breeding, beginning between late May and the end of June, and completed by early October. Juvenile birds have a partial moult, replacing their head, body, and covert feathers; this is completed by October, although the start of the moult depends on when the chicks hatched. The mistle thrush is much larger, paler and longer-tailed than the
sympatric In biology, two related species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of ...
song thrush. In the western Himalayas it could be confused with both the plain-backed and the long-tailed thrushes. These are similar to the mistle thrush, but the plain–backed thrush lacks obvious wing bars, is more
rufous Rufous () is a color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. ...
above than its relative, and is barred rather than spotted below. The long-tailed thrush has olive-toned upperparts, bars on its breast and two wing bars. Juvenile mistle thrushes are superficially similar to White's thrush, but that species has golden-yellow plumage, scalloped underparts and a distinctive underwing pattern.


Voice

The male mistle thrush has a loud melodious song with fluted whistles, sounding like ''chewee-trewuu ... trureetruuruu'' or similar, repeated three to six times, and used to advertise his territory, attract a mate and maintain the pair bond.Clement et al. (2000) p. 41. The tone resembles that of the song thrush or blackbird, but compared to its relatives the mistle thrush's repertoire is less varied and the delivery is slower. The song is, however, much louder, often audible up to 2 km (2,000 yd) away. The song is given from a treetop or other elevated position mainly from November to early June. The male is most vocal in the early morning, and its tendency to sing after, and sometimes during, wet and windy weather led to the old name "stormcock". The song may be heard in any month, although it is uncommon from July to August while the thrush is moulting. The main call, given by both sexes, is a dry chattering ''krrrr'', louder when it is alarmed or excited. It is often likened to the sound of a football rattle, a form of musical ratchet. There is also a squeaky ''tuk'' contact call.


Distribution and habitat

The mistle thrush breeds in much of Europe and temperate Asia, although it is absent from the treeless far north, and its range becomes discontinuous in southeast Europe, Turkey and the Middle East. In these warmer southern areas, it tends to be found in the milder uplands and coastal regions. Nominate ''T. v. viscivorus'' breeds in Europe and in Asia east to the Ob, beyond which it is replaced by ''T. v. bonapartei''. The southern form ''T. v. deichleri'' is resident in North Africa, and
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
. The mistle thrush is a partial migrant: birds from the north and east of the range wintering in the milder areas of Europe and North Africa. Scandinavian and Russian birds start moving south from mid-September onwards, most birds wintering in Europe, western Turkey and the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
. Between mid-October and November, large numbers cross the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also no ...

Strait of Gibraltar
and others pass through Cyprus, but there is hardly any migration across the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. Breeding birds in the British Isles and north-west Europe are resident or move only short distances. In the Himalayas, the breeding population moves to nearby lower-altitude sites in winter. Return migration starts mainly from late March, although it can be a month earlier in the Middle East, and northern breeders may not arrive back on their territories until late April or early May. Migration may be by day or night, and typically involves individuals or small groups. Vagrant birds have occurred in the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal The two Autonomous Regions of Portugal ( pt, Regiões Autónomas de Portugal) are the Azores (''Região ...

Azores
, China,
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology ...

Crete
, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sikkim and the United Arab Emirates. In the winter 2017/2018 the first record of a mistle thrush for North America was at Miramichi, New Brunswick, Miramichi in New Brunswick. The mistle thrush is found in a wide range of habitats containing trees, including forests, plantations, hedges and town parks. In the south and east of its range, it inhabits upland coniferous woodland and the range extends above the main tree line where dwarf Juniperus communis, juniper is present. Breeding occurs at up to in the mountains of North Africa, and occasionally much higher, to . In the highlands of Europe, its preferred altitude is from .Snow & Perrins (1998) pp. 1230–1234. More open habitats, such as agricultural land, moors and grassy hills, are extensively used in winter or on migration. There is evidence that this species has changed its natural habitat in at least parts of its range. In Germany and elsewhere in central Europe, it was found only in coniferous forest until the mid-1920s when its range rapidly expanded, first into farmland, and then to suburbs and urban parks. The reasons for this expansion are unclear.Fuller (2003) p. 28. In areas of intensive farming, such as eastern England, arable land has in turn largely been abandoned in favour of built-up areas with their greater variety of green habitats. Perhaps the most notable find of the 118th Christmas Bird Count in Canada was a single vagrant mistle thrush found in Miramichi, New Brunswick. This was the first record for this species in North America. The discovery attracted many birders from Canada and the United States; sightings continued from early December 2017 through late March 2018.


Behaviour

Mistle thrushes are found as individuals or pairs for much of the year, although families forage together in late summer, and groups may merge to form large flocks when food sources are plentiful. It is not uncommon for up to 50 thrushes to feed together at that time of year. They roost at night in trees or bushes, again typically as individuals or pairs, except in late summer or autumn when families may roost together. The mistle thrush is quite terrestrial, hopping with its head held up and body erect; when excited, it will flick its wings and tail. The flight consists of undulating bounds interspersed with glides.


Breeding

Mistle thrushes breed in the year subsequent to their hatching; they are monogamous and stay as a pair throughout the year in areas where they are not migratory. Their territories are much larger than those of blackbirds or song thrushes; although the nest territory is only about , around is used for feeding. Territories are normally reoccupied in subsequent years. Territories are larger in woods than in farmland. The male will attack intruders into its breeding area, including birds of prey and corvids, and sometimes cats or humans. Courtship feeding of the female by her partner has sometimes been observed. Breeding typically commences in mid-March in the south and west of Europe (late February in Britain), but not till early May in Finland. The nest is usually built in a tree in the fork of a branch or against the trunk, although hedges, ledges on buildings and cliff faces may also be used. The nest site may be up to above the ground, although is more typical. The common chaffinch often nests close to a mistle thrush, the vigilance of the chaffinch and the aggressive behaviour of the thrush benefiting both species. The thrush's nest is a large cup of sticks, dry grass, roots and moss, coated on the inside with a layer of mud and lined with fine grass and leaves. The nest is built by the female, although the male may help. Nests built early in the breeding season may be destroyed by bad weather. The
clutch A clutch is a mechanical device that engages and disengages power transmission Transmission may refer to: Science and technology * Power transmissionPower transmission is the movement of energy from its place of generation to a location wh ...
is typically three to five eggs (range two to six), which are usually whitish-buff or greenish-blue and are spotted with red, purple or brown. The average size of the egg is , and weighs , of which 6% is shell. The eggs are incubate (bird), incubated for 12–15 days, mainly by the female. The chicks are altricial and downy, and are fed by both parents. They
fledge Fledging is the stage in a flying animal A number of animals are capable of aerial locomotion, either by powered flight or by gliding (flight), gliding. This trait has appeared by evolution many times, without any single common ancestor. Fl ...
about 14–16 days after hatching. There are normally two broods, except in Siberia, where there is only one, the male feeding the fledglings from the first brood while the female sits on the second clutch. Sometimes the same nest is reused for both broods. The young are dependent on their parents for 15–20 days after fledging. In a study carried out in Britain, the survival rate for juveniles in their first year is 57 per cent, and the adult annual survival rate is 62 per cent. Life expectancy is typically three years, but the maximum age recorded from bird ringing recoveries is 21 years and 3 months for a bird shot in Switzerland.


Feeding

Mistle thrushes feed mainly on
invertebrate Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the chordata, chordate subphylum vertebrate, Vertebra ...
s, fruit and berries. Animal prey include earthworms, insects and other arthropods, slugs and snails. Snails are sometimes smashed on a stone "anvil", a technique also used by the song thrush. The mistle thrush has been known to kill slowworms and the young of the song thrush, blackbird and dunnock. Plant food includes the fruits and seeds of bushes and trees, mainly holly, yew, ivy and mistletoe, but also, for example, blackberry, cherry, elder, hawthorn, olive and rose. It may eat the flowers and shoots of grasses and other plants, and will take fallen apples and plums. It forages within its breeding habitat and in open fields, sometimes sharing these feeding areas with redwings or fieldfares. Young birds are initially mainly fed on invertebrates, often collected from low foliage or under bushes rather than in the grassland preferred by the adults. Adults will roam up to 1 km (approximately 1,100 yards) from the nest on pasture or ploughed land. After fledging the young may accompany their parents until the onset of winter. Individuals or pairs will defend one or more fruit-bearing trees throughout the winter, with preference shown for trees which host mistletoe, the parasitic plant from which the bird derives its name. Where mistletoe is not present, holly is the most common tree chosen.Snow & Snow (2010) pp. 154–156. Although the thrush normally feeds on the ground and from low bushes, the defence of this resource conserves fruit for later in the season when other food items become scarce. The trees are defended against other thrushes as well as birds such as the bullfinch and great spotted woodpecker. In milder winters with an abundance of fruit, however, this strategy is less used and thrushes can be observed foraging in flocks. Conversely, in hard winters, the defender may be overwhelmed by large flocks of fieldfares, redwings or Bohemian waxwings. As its name implies, the mistle thrush is important in plant propagation, propagating the mistletoe, an aerial parasite, which needs its seeds to be deposited on the branches of suitable trees. The highly nutritious fruits are favoured by the thrush, which digests the flesh leaving the sticky seeds to be excreted, possibly in a suitable location for germination.Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 28.


Predators and parasites

The mistle thrush is predated upon by a wide variety of birds of prey, including the boreal owl,Korpimäki & Hakkarainen (2012) p. 97. short-eared owl, tawny owl, Ural owl, Eurasian eagle-owl, golden eagle,Watson (2010) p. 94. Common kestrel, kestrel, common buzzard, red kite, northern goshawk,Kenward (2010) p. 204. peregrine falcon,Ratcliffe (2010) p. 415. and Eurasian sparrowhawk, sparrowhawk.Newton (2010) p. 108. The eggs and chicks may be targeted by cats and corvids. Parent birds exhibit fearlessness in defence of their nests, occasionally even attacking humans.Coward (1928) pp. 193–196. The mistle thrush is not normally a host of the common cuckoo, a brood parasite. External parasites of the mistle thrush include the hen flea, the moorhen flea, the castor bean tick and the brightly coloured Trombicula autumnalis, harvest mite.Rothschild & Clay (1953) pp. 84–85.Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 227. Internally, they can suffer from parasites including cestoda, tapeworm,Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 197. nematodes,Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 189. and ''Syngamus merulae'' (a species of Gapeworm).Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 181. Blood parasites can include ''Trypanosoma'' and ''Plasmodium'' species.Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 171.Rothschild & Clay (1953) p. 165.


Status

The mistle thrush has an extensive distribution in Europe and western Asia, and its European breeding population is estimated at 9–22.2 million birds. When Asian breeders are added, this gives a global total of 12.2–44.4 million. The species was formerly more restricted in range, and rarely bred even in northern England in the 1700s.Brown & Grice (2005) p. 499. It expanded rapidly into lowland and coastal areas of Europe during the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, colonising areas where it was formerly rare or absent, such as Ireland (where it first bred in 1807), Scotland and the Netherlands. The range also increased in Denmark, Norway, Hungary and Austria. Although the population now appears to be declining, the decrease is not rapid or large enough to trigger conservation vulnerability criteria. Given its high numbers and very large range, this thrush is therefore classified by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an international organization An international organization (also known as an international institut ...
as being of
least concern A least-concern species is a species that has been Conservation status, categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as evaluated as not being a focus of species conservation because the specific species is still plenti ...
. The perceived decline may be due to the loss of invertebrate-rich pastures and mixed farms through conversion to arable agriculture or more intensively managed grassland. Adult survival, clutch size and fledging success are all lower in arable landscapes than in areas with extensive pasture. In Finland, the loss of ancient forests is thought to have led to a local decline.


In culture

Desiderius Erasmus's early sixteenth-century collection of Latin proverbs included ''Turdus malum sibi ipse cacat'', (the thrush himself excretes his own trouble), which refers to the use of the sticky mistletoe berries favoured by this species as an ingredient in birdlime, used to trap birds. The thrush was seen to be thus spreading the seeds of his own destruction.Erasmus (1982) p. 25. ''Mistle Thrush and Alpine Chough'', by Giovanni da Udine, an artist who worked in Raphael's studio in the 16th century, was a sketch for his ''Bird with Garland and Fruit'', and this in turn was the basis for a Raphael fresco in the Apostolic Palace.Hersey (1993) p. 225.Alsteens (2009) pp. 22–23. The early Renaissance poem "The Harmony of Birds" features a thrusshe (mistle thrush) singing the phrase "sanctus, sanctus", distinguishing the bird from the song thrush, the ''mauys'' or ''throstle''.Percy Society et al. (1842) p. 6.Andrew (1985) p. 77. The song of the mistle thrush is also described in Thomas Hardy's "Darkling Thrush" and Edward Thomas (poet), Edward Thomas's "The Thrush".Armitage & Dee (2011) pp. 202–203. The loud call of this common and conspicuous bird also led to many old or local names, including "screech", "shrite" and "gawthrush".Swainson (1886
pp. 1–2
Lockwood (1984) p. 104. Other names, including "stormcock" referred to its willingness to sing in wind and rain. "Holm thrush", "hollin cock" and "holm cock" are based on obsolete names for the holly tree, which may be defended by the thrush in winter for its berries.Cocker & Mabey (2005) pp. 360–361. In Frances Hodgson Burnett's ''The Secret Garden'', Dickon reassures Mary Lennox that he will keep his knowledge of the garden secret by comparing her to a mistle thrush in defence of its nest, recognising his privilege in sharing her secret: "If tha' was a missel thrush an' showed me where thy nest was, does tha' think I'd tell any one? Not me," he said. "Tha' art as safe as a missel thrush." ''Stormcock (album), Stormcock'', released in 1971, is the fifth album by English folk/rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Roy Harper (singer), Roy Harper. The final verse of the Jethro Tull (band), Jethro Tull song "Jack-in-the-Green" from their album ''Songs from the Wood'' mentions the bird in the lines "Oh, the mistlethrush is coming. Jack, put out the light." The bird also features in the lyrics of The Decemberists' song "Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)" from their 2009 album ''The Hazards of Love'': "Mistlethrush, Mistlethrush, Lay me down in the underbrush, My naked feet grow weary with the dusk".


Citations


General bibliography

* (Catalogue for the Exhibition "Raphael to Renoir: Drawings from the Collection of Jean Bonna", held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from 21 January to 26 April 2009, and at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, from 5 June to 6 September 2009) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Ageing and sexing (PDF; 4.3 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze


– Ornithos – Birdwatching in Europe
Vocalisations
– xeno-canto {{DEFAULTSORT:thrush, mistle Turdus, mistle thrush Thrushes, mistle thrush Birds of Central Asia Birds of Europe Birds of North Africa Birds described in 1758, mistle thrush Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus, mistle thrush