Mistle Thrush

Turdus viscivorus (Linnaeus, 1758) M. MISTH 12020
Family: Passeriformes > Turdidae

Mistle Thrush, John Proudlock

The Mistle Thrush is the UK's largest thrush species.

The Mistle Thrush is a handsome bird with a brown back, greyish nape and crown and spotted breast and belly. Pairs may produce up to three clutches in a good year. The male has a wistful song which is often performed during or just after wet and windy weather, giving the species its folkname 'stormcock'.

The Mistle Thrush is found throughout Britain & Ireland expect for the Northern and Western Isles. Its population has undergone a decline in the UK since the late-1970s and the species has been on the UK Red List since 2015. The cause of this decline is not fully understood, but it might be linked to degradation of farmland habitat.

Exploring the trends for Mistle Thrush

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Mistle Thrush population is changing.

trends explorer


Mistle Thrush identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Mistle Thrush.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Mistle Thrush, provided by xeno-canto contributors.



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Like those of Song Thrush and Blackbird, Mistle Thrush populations have declined significantly since the mid 1970s. The species was moved from the green to the amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern in 2002 because of its UK population decline, and in the latest review it was added to the red list because its decrease had worsened (Eaton et al. 2015). The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that across Britain there is a steep gradient between decrease over that period in the southeast and increase in the northwest. Demographic data do not show any significant trends since 1967; population decline is thus likely to have been driven by reduced annual survival (Siriwardena et al. 1998b). The European trend has been broadly stable since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).

Exploring the trends for Mistle Thrush

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Mistle Thrush population is changing.

trends explorer


Mistle Thrushes are widely distributed throughout Britain & Ireland, being found in 88% of 10-km squares in winter and 86% in the breeding season. They are absent from the Outer Hebrides and Northern Isles and from western parts of Co. Mayo. Some of these areas are occupied in winter by small numbers of immigrants. Otherwise, the only significant gaps are in the higher Scottish uplands. Densities are highest in Ireland. In Britain there are scattered pockets of high density, including some at moderate altitudes on the eastern fringe of the Highlands.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Minor changes in winter and breeding range size belie marked regional trends in abundance, with decreases in abundance through much of England. These changes mirror a breeding population decline which has been under way since the 1970s.


Mistle Thrush is widely recorded in winter, spring and summer but is hard to detect post breeding.

Weekly occurence of Mistle Thrush from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Mistle Thrush ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Mistle Thrush, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Mistle Thrush

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Mistle Thrush population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Mistle Thrush

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Mistle Thrush population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Smeòrach-mhòr
Welsh: Brych Coed
Catalan: griva comuna
Czech: drozd brávník
Danish: Misteldrossel
Dutch: Grote Lijster
Estonian: hoburästas
Finnish: kulorastas
French: Grive draine
German: Misteldrossel
Hungarian: léprigó
Icelandic: Mistilþröstur
Irish: Liatráisc
Italian: Tordela
Latvian: sila strazds
Lithuanian: amalinis strazdas
Norwegian: Duetrost
Polish: paszkot
Portuguese: tordoveia
Slovak: drozd trskota
Slovenian: carar
Spanish: Zorzal charlo
Swedish: dubbeltrast
Folkname: Stormcock, Shrite


Interpretation and scientific publications about Mistle Thrush from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

Declines may be linked to reduced survival of juveniles. The paucity of information specific to Mistle Thrush represents a gap in knowledge that needs to be filled by new research.

Further information on causes of change

Similarities in population trends between Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Blackbird suggest a common cause of decline (Siriwardena et al. 1998a). As for Song Thrush (Robinson et al. 2004), Mistle Thrush decline may be linked to reduced survival of juveniles: both adult and juvenile survival was lower during periods of negative population trend than in stable or increasing ones (Siriwardena et al. 1998b). Demographic data do not suggest any close link between the population trend of Mistle Thrush and its breeding productivity, as there is no evidence of increased failure rates at egg or chick stage, or of reduction in fledglings per breeding attempt.

Mistle Thrush declines recorded by CBC were especially evident on farmland. Drainage of fields and removal of hedgerows would have reduced the habitat available for Mistle Thrush, as they did for Song Thrush (Chamberlain et al. 2000b, Peach et al. 2004).

Information about conservation actions

This species has been declining since the 1980s, but the main drivers of decline are not yet clear. Declines may be linked to reduced survival of juveniles and hence could be caused by similar reasons to the declines to its relatives, Blackbird and Song Thrush.

In the absence of specific research, therefore, similar actions to those proposed for Blackbird and Song Thrush may also benefit Mistle Thrush. These could include managing hedgerows or woodland habitat for wildlife (including management to provide good quality nesting cover in woodland), and policies to provide grazed grassland within arable landscapes and damper soils in summer.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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