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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 15:40   #1
Roger S.
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Angry Song or mistle thrush

Are there any tips you can give me to identify the difference between a song thrush and mistle thrush.
I have read the field guilds but when I got one in front of me I still am not 100% sure which one it is.

Thanks
Roger
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 16:01   #2
David FG
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger S.
Are there any tips you can give me to identify the difference between a song thrush and mistle thrush.
I have read the field guilds but when I got one in front of me I still am not 100% sure which one it is.

Thanks
Roger
Mistle Thrushes are appreciably bigger, and instead of the Song Thrushes warm brown colouring they look grey. Also the spots on the breast are bigger and coarser looking. The Mistle also has white underwings. Songs and calls are also different, but I won't even try to describe them!

Hope that is some help.
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 16:39   #3
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Hi Roger,

A number of things that to me are indicators, but that the fieldguides don't portray, would be:

1. Song tends to be more secretive, feeding under hedges or trees, whereas Mistle are much bolder, strutting around on open grass
2. Mistle stands in a more "cocky" way, breast out, head up, whereas Song seems to often have its head down, furtling around turning leaves over, etc
3. On general shape, Mistle seems large-bodied with a small head, whilst Song always looks better-proportioned, with a smaller rounder body and larger head
4. As David says, song always looks brown, almost golden brown on the upperparts, whereas Mistle looks grey-brown.
5. In flight, Mistle shows white corners to the tail as well as the striking white underwings
6. Call: Mistle does a loud rattle, often as it flies, unlike Song's quiet psssiip
7.The breast spots on Song are more teardrop shaped, on Mistle, flatter and wider.
8. There is more of a golden wash on the breast and flanks, whilst Mistle has a very white-looking breast

These are just a few from memory - hope they are of use

All the best


Sean
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 17:46   #4
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the Macmillan guide is excellent on species pairs like this
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 17:59   #5
Roger S.
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Thanks very much everyone, I will try to memorise those points.
I saw 3 together in the trees today quiet high up, so by what Sean says , if they are together they could point to being mistle thrushes ? . Also is there any difference in the tail length or shape.

I'll get there in the end.

Cheers.
Roger
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 18:09   #6
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When they fly mistle thrushes show
white "armpits" while a song thrush shows a buff-orangey colour.
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 21:53   #7
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All I'd add is that it's not as easy as you might think - particularly for a relative beginner like me.

We've had quite an influx of Mistle Thrushes around here in the last few months (or at least I've found more than normal) and I've seen them in various shades of grey / brown, with more or less yellow on the breast, with more or less rounded breast markings and more or less stretched / compact. We've also had a few Song Thrush around, so I've had to spend quite a lot of time on this subject.

All of the points mentioned are useful, but if you only catch a brief glimpse of the bird it can be v. difficult - particularly if it's a Mistle Thrush behaving like a Song Thrush and skulking (and they do). As usual, loads of practice, good notes and careful observation seems to be the only sure-fire solution.

The only thing I can add to the previous pointers is that Mistle have a rump that is quite markedly paler, and a longer tail / wings which can be quite striking, particularly when the bird is on the ground (as Mistle Thrush often are).
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Old Thursday 3rd March 2005, 23:11   #8
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Also Mistle Thrush have an undulating flight although not as much as say a Green Woodpecker , more of a few flaps on the way up and then holding the wings tight to the body on the down , usually while uttering their " rattle" . Mistle also like to sing in full view using the topmost point of a tree , not a bad song but short and very repetitive , even more so that the Song Thrush .

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