Turdus pilaris Linnaeus, 1758 ♂
Common names: Fieldfare [En], Grive litorne [Fr], Kramsvogel [Nl], Wacholderdrossel [De], Cesena [It], Tordo-zornal [Es], Κεδρότσιχλα, Τρυγονότζικλα [Gr], Ardıç Kuşu, Tarla ardıcı [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Irakleia, SERRES ● Greece
Description: The forehead and crown of the male are bluish-grey and each feather has a central brownish-black band. The lores and under-eye regions are black and there are faint, pale streaks above the eyes. The ear coverts, nape, hind neck and rump are bluish-grey, usually with a white streak near the shaft of each rump feather. The scapulars and mantle feathers are dark chestnut-brown with dark central streaks and pale tips. There are fourteen tail feathers each with a pointed tip, the outer two slightly shorter than the others giving a rounded tail. They are brownish-black, with inconspicuous darker bars visible in some lights. The outer edge of each tail feather is fringed with grey near the base and the outer pair of feathers have a narrow white border on the inner edge. The chin, throat and upper breast are creamy-buff with bold streaks and speckles of brownish-black. The lower breast is creamy-white with a diminishing buff tinge and fewer speckles and the belly is similarly creamy-white, with the speckles restricted to the uppermost parts. The primaries are brownish-black with the leading edge fringed grey and the inner edge of the outer feathers grey near the base whereas the inner feathers are fringed with brown near the base. The secondaries are similar but fringed with chestnut-brown on the leading edge. The upper wing-coverts are brownish-black and similar to the outer primaries in their margin colouration. The axillaries and under wing-coverts are white and the under tail-coverts have dark greyish-brown bases and margins and white centres and tips. The beak is strong, with a slight curve and a notch near the tip. It is orange-yellow in winter, with the upper mandible somewhat brownish and both mandible tips brownish-black. In the summer both mandibles of the male's beak are yellow. The irises are dark brown and the legs and feet are brown. The average adult length is 25 cm.
The female is very similar to the male but the upper parts are somewhat more brownish and the feathers on the crown have narrower black central stripes. The throat and breast are paler with fewer, smaller markings. The beak is similar to the male's winter beak. The juvenile are a duller colour than the adults with pale coloured streaks on the feathers that have dark streaks in the adult. The young assume their adult plumage after their first moult in the autumn.
Biology: It is highly gregarious, quite shy and easily scared in the winter and bold and noisy in the breeding season.
The fieldfare is omnivorous. Animal food in the diet includes snails and slugs, earthworms, spiders and insects such as beetles and their larvae, flies and grasshoppers. When berries ripen in the autumn these are taken in great number. Hawthorn, holly, rowan, yew, juniper, dog rose, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha and Berberis are all relished. Later in the winter windfall apples are eaten, swedes attacked in the field and grain and seeds eaten.
Fieldfares often nest in small colonies, possibly for protection from predators. The breeding season starts in May in Poland but further north in Scandinavia may not start until early July. The female fieldfare builds a cup-shaped nest of dried grasses and weeds with no attempt at concealment. The location is often in woodland but may be in a hedgerow, garden, among rocks, in a pile of logs, in a hut or on the ground. There are usually five to six eggs in a clutch. The chicks are altricial and both parents bring food to them. They are usually ready to leave the nest after fourteen to sixteen days and there may be two broods in the season, especially in the southern parts of the breeding range.
Habitat: In the summer the fieldfare frequents mixed woodland of birch, alder, pine, spruce and fir, often near marshes, moorland or other open ground. It does not avoid the vicinity of humans and can be seen in cultivated areas, orchards, parks and gardens. It also inhabits open tundra and the slopes of hills above the tree line. In the winter, groups of fieldfares are chiefly found in open country, agricultural land, orchards and open woodland. They are nomadic, wandering wherever there is an abundance of berries and insects. Later in the year they move on to pastureland and cultivated fields.
Distribution: The fieldfare is a migratory species with a Palaearctic distribution. It breeds in northern and central Europe as far east as Transbaikal, the Aldan River and the Tian Shan Mountains in North West China. Its winter range extends through West and South Europe to North Africa, though it is uncommon in the Mediterranean region. Eastern populations migrate to Anatolia, Israel/Palestine, Iran and Northwest India, and occasionally Northeast India.