Redwing Turdus iliacus

Redwing (Turdus iliacus) seasonal activity. From Trektellen.
Redwing (Turdus iliacus) seasonal activity. From Trektellen.

Flight period

A small pulse of migration in early spring (March to April) with a much larger pulse in autumn, from early October to the end of November, though small numbers of birds can be recorded moving at night throughout winter.


One of the commonest nocturnal migrants. Around half of all calls logged on Trektellen are Redwing calls. Can be detected singly or in loose flocks.


Two call types, the familiar tseeep call and a soft nasal kuk more rarely heard. May occasionally give alarm calls in flight. Both tseeep and kuk calls can be heard in the following clip.


1 – tseeep

The classic sound of autumn, the tseeep call is a high pitch downslurred note. Most calls are shaped like the first example below, but the actual frequency range spanned by the call, the length of the call, and the shape (“steepness”) are  very variable. Rarely, some calls can even be arch shaped. Calls are usually easily separated from Blackbird calls (page in prep).

Variation in Redwing Turdus iliacus calls (Simon Gillings)
Variation in Redwing Turdus iliacus calls (Simon Gillings)


2 – kuk

The soft kuk note is often given just before a tseeep call. The equivalent notes of Blackbird are shorter and don’t have such an obvious arch (‘staple’) shape. Here a kuk note can be heard at 1.5 seconds.

Redwing kuk note followed by tseep note

Confusion species

Blackbird – some tseeep calls have a slightly modulated quality that makes them sound a bit like Blackbird calls, but usually the modulations in Redwing calls are very rapid and hard to see. Redwing calls typically descend in frequency more than Blackbird calls.

Tree Pipit – Redwing tseeep calls are normally at higher frequency than Tree Pipit calls, but sometimes calls are recorded which appear to be aberrant low frequency Redwing calls. These are rare, perhaps <1 in 5000 calls.

Other material

A large selection of Redwing calls recorded by Joost van Bruggen can be seen here.