Mistle thrush

Mistle thrush
Turdus viscivorus in Baikonur-town 001.jpg
In Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Song recorded in West Sussex, England
Scientific classification edit
T. viscivorus
Binomial name
Turdus viscivorus
   Breeding summer visitor
   Resident year-round
   Winter visitor
(ranges are approximate)

The mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) is a bird common to much of Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is a year-round resident in a large part of its range, but northern and eastern populations migrate south for the winter, often in small flocks. It is a large thrush 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, and its three subspecies 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 invertebrates, seeds and berries. Its preferred fruits include those of the mistletoe, holly and yew. Mistletoe is favoured where it is available, and this is reflected in the thrush's English and scientific names; the plant, a parasitic species, benefits from its seeds being excreted by the thrush onto branches where they can germinate. 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 is built against a trunk or in a forked branch, and is fearlessly defended against potential predators, sometimes including humans or cats. The clutch, typically of three to five eggs, is incubated for 12–15 days, mainly by the female. The chicks fledge about 14–16 days after hatching. There are normally two broods. There was a large 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 as being of least concern.


The mistle thrush was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 under its current scientific names.[2][3] Turdus is the Latin for "thrush", and viscivorus, "mistletoe eater", comes from viscum "mistletoe" and vorare, "to devour".[4][5][6] The bird's liking for mistletoe berries is also indicated by its English name, "mistle" being an old name for the plant.[7]

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.[8] A mitochondrial DNA study identified the mistle thrush's closest relatives as the similarly plumaged song and Chinese thrushes; 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 (T. merula) which are descended from ancestors that had colonised the Caribbean islands from Africa and subsequently reached Europe from there.[9][10]

At least eight subspecies have been proposed, but the differences are mainly clinal, with birds of the nominate subspecies becoming paler and less densely spotted in the east of the range. The currently accepted subspecies are:[11]

  • Turdus viscivorus viscivorus, Linnaeus, 1758. The nominate subspecies.
  • T. v. bonapartei, Cabanis, 1860.
  • T. v. deichleri, Erlanger, 1897.

An isolated population in Crimea has sometimes been separated as T. v. tauricus, but this is not considered to be a valid form.[11] Mistle thrush fossils have been found in Pleistocene deposits from Poland and Sicily.[12][13]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Misteldrossel
العربية: سمنة كبيرة
azərbaycanca: Çil qaratoyuq
башҡортса: Барҡылдаҡ
беларуская: Дзяраба
български: Имелов дрозд
brezhoneg: Drask roueel
català: Griva
Чӑвашла: Пысăк сĕлхе
čeština: Drozd brávník
corsu: Trizina
Cymraeg: Brych coed
Deutsch: Misteldrossel
Ελληνικά: Τσαρτσάρα
Esperanto: Viskoturdo
euskara: Garraztarro
føroyskt: Diglutrøstur
français: Grive draine
Gaeilge: Smólach mór
հայերեն: Սոսնձակեռնեխ
Bahasa Indonesia: Mistle thrush
ქართული: ჩხართვი
Кыргызча: Боз таркылдак
latviešu: Sila strazds
Livvinkarjala: Kuloračoi
magyar: Léprigó
македонски: Имеличар
Nederlands: Grote lijster
Nedersaksies: Dubbele liester
norsk: Duetrost
norsk nynorsk: Duetrast
Piemontèis: Turdus viscivorus
polski: Paszkot
português: Turdus viscivorus
русиньскый: Деряба
русский: Деряба
Scots: Storm cock
slovenčina: Drozd trskota
slovenščina: Carar
suomi: Kulorastas
svenska: Dubbeltrast
татарча/tatarça: Баркылдык
українська: Дрізд-омелюх
Tiếng Việt: Turdus viscivorus
中文: 槲鸫