Turdus pilaris Linnaeus - Fieldfare

Systematic position.

Class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Turdidae, genus Turdus. The fauna of the Former Soviet Union has at most 2 subspecies.

Biological group.

Harmful birds.

Morphology and biology.

Adult males and females have the same coloration. Upper parts of the head and neck, and upper tail coverts are bluish-gray; the back is dark chestnut colored. Lower part of the neck and craw, and breast are ochre-red, with black longitudinal spots on the breast and sides; underbody is white. The wings and tail are black-fulvous; the beak is dark fulvous, with yellow base; the legs are fulvous. Body length is 250-285 mm, wing length is about 150 mm, weight is about 100g. Young birds have a variegated coloration; i.e., upper part of the head, neck, and upper tail coverts are fulvous; feathers of the back have light spots; underbody has roundish spots. The Fieldfare inhabits coniferous and broad-leaved forests, but avoids continuous large forests, preferring to keep closer to forest margins in stands on flood-lands; it often inhabits city gardens and parks.


Within the Former Soviet Union: from the western frontier to the Aldan River and upper reach of the Lena River in the east; to the limits of forest zone in the north; to Kiev, Poltava, Kharkiv, Voronezh and Saratov regions, middle reach of the Ural River, and to the Altai mountains in the south. Outside the Former Soviet Union: Western Europe, reaching the Upper Rhine and Austria in the west. The Fieldfare spends winter in Central and South Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor.


The Fieldfare is a common migratory bird, living in flocks. It nests in colonies of 10 to 30 or more pairs. Birds make nests in trees and bushes. The Fieldfare is less timorous than other species of thrushes. This peculiarity of behavior also allows Fieldfare to colonize homestead lands. It feeds on both trees and ground. The Fieldfare is omnivorous, feeding on insects, earthworms, and mollusks in spring and summer, and feeding mainly on berries, fruits, and seeds in autumn and winter. In summer, there are usually two egg-layings containing 4 to 7 eggs having greenish color and fulvous spots. Male guards both female and its nest. Nestlings stay in the nest for 12 or 13 days when both parents feed them. Fledglings leave the nest, unprepared for independent life; their parents continue to feed them and teach them flying. Later young Fieldfares start to migrate by small flocks, often flying into forest margins and clearings, where they feed. Subsequently, young birds of the second hatch and adults join them. By autumn, the Fieldfares gather large flocks and almost completely change their diet to plant food.

Economic significance.

Periodically, especially in autumn, a significant harm is observed in berry and fruit crops. Fieldfares prefer to feed in strawberry plantations situated near forests or surrounded by forest belts. They usually eat only a part of the berry, but damage two or three times more berries than they can eat. Young, yet sparse plantations of strawberry of the first year of fruiting are especially damaged. In the northwestern part of the area (Leningrad Region), fieldfares destroy 20% of strawberry yield in such plantations. In some years poor for rowans and bilberries, the yield of black chokeberry is destroyed by 50% and more. Fieldfares also damage other cultivated berries, such as currant, especially red currant, and gooseberry; and apples, pears, and cherries in orchards. Their harm in the gardens increases since they knock a lot of ripe fruits from the trees (of summer cultivars) to the ground. The harm of fieldfares increases with the extension of the area of fruit and berry growing farms. They cause the most economically noticeable harm in nursery gardens, plant breeding and experimental stations, where new cultivars of berry plants and fruit crops are growing. In order to protect crops from fieldfares, small plots of berry fields are recommended with covers of thin nets having meshes of no more than two cm in size. To scare off the birds, the bushes are wound around with untwisting threads, which are a waste product of textile industry. In some countries, the shooting of fieldfares is permitted in some periods of time.

Reference citations:

Gladkov, N.A., Dement.ev, G.P., Mikheev, A.V. & Inozemtsev, A.A. 1970. The life of animals. V.5. (Birds). Moscow: Prosveshchenie. 611 p. (in Russian).
Gladkov, N.A., Dement.ev, G.P., Ptushenko, E.S. & Sudilovskaya A.M. 1964. Key to the birds of the USSR. Yaroslavl: Vysshaya Shkola. 536 p. (in Russian).
Golovanova, E.N. 1975. Birds and agriculture. Leningrad: Lenizdat. 168 p. (in Russian).
Golovanova, E.N. 1980. Methodical recommendations on use of insect-eating birds in agricultural land, preventing harm and protection of endangered species. Leningrad: VIZR. 46 p. (in Russian).
Ivanov, A.I. 1976. Catalogue of the birds of the USSR. Leningrad: Nauka. 275 p. (in Russian).
Ivanov, A.I. & Shtegman, B.K. 1964. Short key to the birds of the USSR. Moscow-Leningrad: Nauka. 528 p. (in Russian).
Portenko, L.A. 1954. Birds of the USSR. Part 3. Moscow-Leningrad: AN SSSR. 255 p.

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