The life of the song thrush – A regular winter guest to the Algarve

A Regular winter guest to the Algarve

The male, which apart from the singing, can hardly be distinguished from the female, helps with feeding the young with insects, worms, caterpillars and smashed snails.

The song thrush (Turdus philomelos or Tordo pinto in Portuguese) is closely related to the common black- bird, but it is a bit smaller. With its striking and beautiful, flute-like song in the spring, the song thrush is familiar to many people in Central Europe, or at least to their ears. The very varied song of the song thrush mainly contains pure melodious flute notes, which are repeated two to four times, interspersed with grating notes and mimicry. In reference books it is described as “filip filip filip codidio co- didio quitquiquit tittit tittit ter- eret tereret tereret”. Its body posture is more erect than that of other related thrushes and when the song thrush turns its chest to the onlooker, it is quite noticeable due to the many dark spots, but when it turns its back, it easily disappears in the foliage because of its incon- spicuous brownish colour.

The song thrush was originally a purely woodland bird, but its habitat diversified at the beginning of the 20th century, with the onset of urbanisation. Today it is found in larger gardens, on rooftops and in smaller wooded areas. It breeds in all of Central Europe, up to the northern edge of the Pyrenees and Western Siberia. The northern populations are migratory birds, which winter in the southern part of the Iberian Penin- sula and in North Africa. The song thrushes appear in the Algarve in the last week of September, and leave our southern Portuguese province again around the beginning of March.

Thus numerous song thrushes are to be found here in the winter months. But they would be hardly noticed without their characteristic song at this time of the year and are not easy to find with their otherwise in- conspicuous behaviour.

Shortly before dark however, Dr. Manfred Temme it is possible to see several song thrushes, especially when they are heading towards a shared space for sleeping in dense trees. On occasions I have counted up to 60 individuals. During this, their flight call, a short, high “zip”, serves to keep the bird group together, while also helping humans to find the birds.





Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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