Mistle Thrush or Song Thrush call? Hard to decide.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


After work last night I headed up the hills at the back of the house to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. Near the top is an abandoned building surrounded by mature trees. In the past these have held Buzzards and the usual farmland species, but this time a strange call caught my attention. It sounded to me almost like the rasping noise made by the teeth of a comb if you run your finger along them. I had a scan around and saw what I thought was a Song Thrush sitting at the very top of one of the nearby trees. As it continued to call I heard a reply and quickly located a second bird on a fence post a hundred meters or so away. They continued to call for the next five minutes before the original bird flew off. As I have said I assumed that both of these birds were Song Thrushes, but that they were using a call that I was unfamiliar with. Most of them around here tend to like mimicking Oystercatchers which always amuses me when you hear them in a forest.

When I got back to the house I had a listen to the calls again as I had recorded them on my phone, and now I am not so sure that my original ID was correct. I couldn't find a similar sound anywhere on the web. The closest I got was to part of a Mistle Thrush's alarm call. As I didn't expect to see any Mistle Thrushes I hadn't even thought to look any closer at the time. I am now wondering if I did in fact see two Mistle Thrushes issuing territorial calls to each other. The sound clip is embedded below if anyone wants a listen and can offer any advice. You will need to turn the volume up as the sound levels are quite low. The first of the mystery calls appears a few seconds in and can be clearly distinguished from the background bird song.


I also recorded a second clip which includes two of our most common birds, the Blackbird and the Robin. It is great to have so much birdsong back in the countryside after such a long hard winter. The Robin is the bird that is doing the singing whilst the short sharp calls are those of the Blackbird.

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