Song Thrush Turdus philomelos


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 24,400,000-38,400,000 pairs, which equates to 48,800,000-76,800,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.65% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 75,000,000-118,000,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the overall trend from 1980-2013 was increasing (EBCC 2015).


This species breeds in almost all types of temperate forest and woodland, generally in lowlands and valleys but reaching the tree-line in Switzerland and Russia. It requires patches of trees and bushes with small areas of open moist ground supporting abundant invertebrate fauna. It has also adapted well to modern lowland agricultural and urban landscapes, breeding in small woodlots, parkland, orchards, mature hedgerows, overgrown railway embankments, roadsides, cemeteries, and suburban gardens with some tall trees. In non-breeding areas in the south of its range habitats are somewhat drier. In western Europe breeding occurs mainly from mid-March to mid-August but can start a month later in central and northern Europe. The nest is a neat cup of grass, twigs and moss with a thick hard lining of clay, mud, dung or rotten wood, often mixed with leaves. It is usually placed in a bush, shrub or tree, often against the trunk, but can also be in a creeper on wall, in a bank or on a ledge. Clutches are three to five eggs (Collar 2015). It feeds on a wide range of invertebrates, especially earth worms, as well as fruit as it is available through the year (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species is mainly migratory, although southern and western populations are mostly sedentary, partial migrants or short-distance movers over the winter period (Collar 2015).


Local declines are thought to be due to changes in agricultural practices which may have caused a major reduction in availability of key summer food resources on lowland farmland, as well as the loss of hedgerows, scrub and permanent grassland with livestock, and the wide-scale installation of under-field drainage systems, which causes early soil drying and thus a loss of topsoil earthworms. Pesticides and predators may also be a threat (Collar 2015). The species has been subject to hunting for many decades in the Mediterranean, but there is no clear evidence this has caused a decline (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Collar 2015). Adverse weather is also known to negatively affect this species (Robinson et al. 2004).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II. The species is listed as red in the national U.K. red list (Eaton et al. 2015). Research is being undertaken in Europe to examine the ecology of this species and the causes of its decline.  

Conservation Actions Proposed
In the U.K., where the species is declining, management for this species should include the planting and restoration of hedgerows to provide nesting and feeding sites and this should be implemented along with sympathetic field margin management. Incentives are needed to encourage mixed farming, damper soil conditions and small, uncropped features, In addition it would likely benefit from the creation and maintenance of ditches, which remain damper for longer during summer, preferably with hedge cover or close to scrub and raised water levels on grass fields (Peach et al. 2004). Future studies should focus on the relationships between species’s survival and environmental variables (Robinson et al. 2004).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Symes, A., Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Turdus philomelos. Downloaded from on 07/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 07/12/2023.