The Redwing. PETER JONES
Redwing are arriving for winter

Redwing are arriving for winter


The Andalucía Bird Society recommends looking out for the Turdus iliacus this month


Friday, 9 December 2022, 13:24

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The clamour of wintering birds arrives with us during October and continues during the later autumn months as temperatures fall in northern and central Europe. Among these winter arrivals are the colourful thrush - the Redwing or Turdus iliacus.

Redwing are a widespread yet elusive winter visitor to Malaga province. Often, they can be seen in the company of their close relative the Song Thrush, which is an unfortunate choice given those wonderful songsters are hunted unmercifully by the barbaric 'Huns with guns' brigade. Redwing are much darker than the Song Thrush and show a clear white to cream coloured supercilium, with the rust-red underwing easily observed when the bird is in flight.

Our wintering birds tend to begin arriving in October and become more common during November. Many birds will continue to journey south and winter in North Africa. It is frequently found in woodlands, but certainly in early winter they will seek hawthorn and wild olive as a food source and persist while plentiful fruit is available. The fluctuating annual and local availability of fruit on these favoured trees and scrub means flocks are usually nomadic as they range in search of areas where there is sufficient food. On lower elevations they will forage for terrestrial invertebrates in open cultivated fields and pastures.

Birds wintering here are most commonly from Scandinavia (Turdus.i.iliacus), but birds of the Icelandic race Turdus.i.coburni can be well represented. Numbers can fluctuate from year to year and are influenced either by availability of food further north or by extreme weather driving them south. I have seen years when they have been abundant and other years when they have been extremely scarce during winter, but as a migrant at the extremes of their passage they are common. Most of our wintering birds and migrants will leave us in March, although I have had odd records during April.

I always look forward to seeing our wintering thrushes return and, alongside the much rarer Fieldfare, Redwing always strike me as one of the most handsome of their family. Up in my mountains I am lucky to see these wintering thrushes in good numbers and together with Ring Ouzel, Fieldfare, Song Thrush and increased numbers of Blackbird (also a winter visitor), they make a day's birding exciting and worth the effort of visiting the high areas even on the coldest of winter days.

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