Redwing in flight by Tim Jones

Autumn thrushes

The first tseee calls of Redwings arriving into Britain and Ireland have been heard in recent nights and Song Thrushes have been on the move too, with more Continental immigrants soon to arrive to supplement our local breeders. As the BirdTrack reporting rate graph below shows, Fieldfares arrive a little more gradually and Blackbirds continue to arrive through November. If you’re lucky there’s always the chance of a Ring Ouzel. This blog summarises the main nocturnal flight calls of these species.

thrush_phenology_BT
Graph showing the percentage of BirdTrack complete lists in Britain & Ireland on which different thrush species were reported each week.

 

All the nocturnal flight calls described below are also given in daytime, during flight and sometimes when perched. They were all recorded as nocturnal migrants over Cambridge, UK.

 

Redwing

The characteristic tseee of an autumn evening. Calls vary a little in length and frequency but they all descend slightly in frequency. In the following recording you can also hear some soft puk calls too.

 

Blackbird

Blackbird srrri flight calls are a little like Redwing calls but are shorter and show less of a frequency drop. They also have a noticeable fluctuating or modulated quality, making it sound like the call is slower than a Redwing tseee call. In the following clip, a Blackbird call is followed by a Redwing call.

 

Blackbird sometimes pair these calls into a double call. The second note is often slightly lower pitch, as in the following example

 

Rarer still, Blackbirds will string together three of these calls into a triple call. The following example (apologies for quality) contains single, double and triple calls.

 

Song Thrush

A single high pitch zit call. A migrant might only give one of these calls as it passes overhead, but sometimes they can give two or three calls a few seconds apart. Very occasionally the zit call is repeated with almost no gap.

 

Fieldfare

At night, much scarcer than the previous three species. Main call a dry chattering, slightly chuckled schack-schack-schack, sometimes preceded by a wheezy rising eep call.

 

Ring Ouzel

Significantly rarer than the other autumn thrushes. Two main call types. The first, which is often heard from migrants in the day, is a very distinctive hard tac-tac-tac call.

 

The Ring Ouzel tac notes are shorter and sharper than corresponding tup notes of Blackbird, which can be heard in the following clip.

 

The second Ring Ouzel call is a rising squeaky bubbling call. It is superficially similar to Fieldfare calls, though it is faster and softer, with a rising quality.

(drake Teal calling in background)

Ring Ouzels also give a rolling prrrt call (e.g. here) though I have not yet recorded it myself.

© all recordings copyright Simon Gillings. Redwing photo by Tim Jones.

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