Redwing Turdus iliacus


Justification of Red List category
Within its European range it has experienced moderate declines, and although the majority of the population occurs outside Europe, it is suspected that at least some declines are occurring elsewhere in its range.  It is therefore precautionarily uplisted to Near Threatened as it almost meets the requirements for listing as threatened under criteria A2b+3b+4b.  More research is needed in Asian Russia to confirm the overall population trend.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 13,200,000-20,100,000 pairs, which equates to 26,300,000-40,300,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).  Europe forms c. 40% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 98,000,000-151,000,000 individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 15.6 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015) this is supported by data from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands, P. Vorisek in litt. 2008) which shows that in Europe the populations has undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01) since 1980.  However only around 40% of the species's range falls within Europe, with the global population trend dependent on trends in Asian Russia.  In European Russia, the population has declined by >20% since 2000 and by >30% since 1980 (BirdLife International 2015).  It therefore seems likely that the Asian Russian population has experienced at least some decline.  The overall population is therefore suspected to be declining at a rate approaching 30%.

Distribution and population

The species breeds from Iceland east through northern and eastern Europe and across much of Siberia, and winters in western and southern Europe, North Africa, around the Black and Caspian Sea basins and in adjacent south-west Asia (Collar and de Juana 2013).  The nominate race iliacus breeds across northern and eastern Europe and winters in western and southern Europe, as well as around the Black and Caspian Seas.  Race coburni breeds in Iceland and the Faeroe Islands (Denmark) and winters in western Europe.


During the breeding season this species is found in forest-open country mosaics in lowlands and relatively low hills, with preference for mid-successional conditions, especially in river basins and on floodplains.  It also inhabits open deciduous or mixed forest margins with fields and mires, clearings in primary forest, regenerating managed forest at the tall bushy stage with considerable understorey, shoreline thickets, tundra willow Salix and birch Betula scrub, scrubby semi-open cultivated sites, parks and gardens and thinned woodland with grassy areas around buildings.  In the winter it uses open woodland, orchards and scrub thickets, wherever berry-bearing bushes and grassy areas are nearby.  In more southern areas of winter range it may reach higher elevations than elsewhere, for example occupying orchards, olive groves and cedars in the High Atlas mountains, Morocco (Collar and de Juana 2013).  The breeding season is from early April to late July, with some latitudinal variation.  The nest is a bulky cup of grass, moss and twigs, bound with mud and bits of vegetation and lined with fine grass stems and leaves.  It is sited on the ground in thick vegetation or low in a bush or tree or on a rotten stump.  It feeds on invertebrates as well as seeds and berries in the autumn and winter.  The species is chiefly migratory (Collar and de Juana 2013).


Population numbers can be very variable owing to the effects of harsh and mild winters, and of unfavourably cold summers (Collar and de Juana 2013).  Climate change may be having an effect on this species given its northerly breeding distribution, with the latitudinal mean centre of weighted density having moved northwards in Finland from the 1970s to the 2010s (see Lehikoinen and Virkkala 2016, Virkkala 2016).  Loss of thicket-scrub vegetation from over-grazing can also impact the presence of this species in an area (Ims and Henden 2012).  The species is also illegally trapped in the Mediterranean (Murgui 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II.  There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Tighter controls on hunting around the Mediterranean should be implemented.  Encourage land management practices that could result in increased winter berry availability and hence aid survival during harsh winters (e.g. Staley et al. 2012).


20-24 cm thrush.  Greyish-brown plumage above with long buffy-white supercilium, buffy-whitish below with long lines of blackish spots radiating down from throat (Collar and de Juana 2013).  Orange-rufous on flanks and underwing.  Bill dark with yellowish base.  Legs pinkish brown.  Juvenile similar to adult.  Voice Song a series of simple, monotonous phrases.  Calls include distinctive drawn-out high-pitched buzz, dssssi or srieh contact calls.


Text account compilers
Westrip, J., Wright, L, Burfield, I., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Symes, A., Ashpole, J, Pople, R., Ieronymidou, C., Wheatley, H.

Virkkala, R., Vorisek, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Turdus iliacus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/redwing-turdus-iliacus on 28/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 28/09/2023.