Living with Birds 21 Facts on Redwing Tweetapedia

Living with Birds 21 Facts on Redwing Tweetapedia

21 Facts
21 Facts On Redwing I1


  1. Redwings look very much like small song thrushes, but are easily identified by the broad white stripe (supercillium) over the eye, and their red underwing.
  2. They are highly sociable birds, and in winter are invariably seen in flocks that may sometimes number hundreds of birds.
  3. Though this species is an abundant winter visitor to the British Isles, the breeding population is tiny and is confined mainly to the Scottish Highlands north of the Great Glen.
  4. It is thought that climate change may well lead to the loss of this small breeding population.
  5. The autumn and winter movements of the redwing are unusual, for it is really an eruptive species, moving in response to food supply and weather, rather than making a regular migration.
  6. Ringing has shown that birds that spend the winter in southern England one year may well fly to Spain or even Turkey in subsequent years.
  7. The winter diet of the redwing is chiefly invertebrates and hedgerow berries.
  8. Feeding flocks are shy, and when disturbed they will usually fly to nearby trees where they will wait before returning to feed again.
  9. In freezing weather they will come to gardens and even visit feeding stations. They are partial to windfall apples.
  10. The first returning redwings are usually seen in Britain in late September, with the big movements taking place in October.
  11. Redwings migrate at night, moving generally when the sky is clear and the wind is in the east. They will often fly a considerable distance inland before settling for the first time.
  12. Migrating redwings maintain contact with each other with their high-pitched flight calls, a typical sound of October nights.
  13. Most of the redwings that visit Britain come from Iceland and Scandinavia. Icelandic birds generally move to Scotland and Ireland, with Scandinavian birds to England and Wales.
  14. They mix freely with other thrushes, and are most often found in company with fieldfares, another migrant thrush from Scandinavia.
  15. On mild days in late winter and early spring, flocks of redwings often indulge in an attractive twittering subsong.
  16. The full song is seldom heard away from the breeding grounds. Though typically thrush-like in quality, it is highly variable.
  17. Males like to sing from high exposed song posts with a commanding view over their territory, usually choosing the tops of trees.
  18. Redwings breed in the forests of the northern taiga, typically building their nests on the ground.
  19. Only the female incubates the eggs, but the male remains in close attendance and helps with feeding the young.
  20. The chicks fledge just 14 days after hatching, allowing the parents to have a second brood.
  21. Estimating the number of redwings that winter in Britain is difficult because of the fluctuations from year to year, but it is thought to be in excess of a million birds.

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