The Missel Or Mistletoe Thrush (Turdus Viscivorus)

The Missel or Mistletoe Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) is the largest of the British resident Turdinae or true Thrushes, attaining a length of 11 in., and is reddish-brown on the upper parts and yellowish-white below, the under surface marked with jetty black spots of triangular form on the throat and neck and round on the chest and belly. The nest is made in a tree, and contains about five reddish spotted eggs, breeding beginning early in April. During this season it is very pugnacious, attacking and driving other birds of larger size, and at other times is said to persecute the song-thrush. Bold and wary in character, also of solitary habits, it certainly does not favour intruders, and though particularly fond of fruit, the missel-thrush seldom visits cultivated fruits, but feeds largely on wild fruits, such as mountain ash, holly, hawthorn, yew and other berries, in copses and woods, and, as its name implies, is very fond of the berries of the mistletoe. In comparison with the song-thrush it is relatively scarce.

It feeds largely upon worms, snails, ground insects and larvae of various above-ground pests.

The Song-Thrush, Throstle or Mavis (Turdus musicus)

The Song-Thrush, Throstle or Mavis (Turdus musicus), Fig. 31, charms alike in town and country with its sweet song, its powerful notes being heard in November and December, at the new year when the weather is mild, and in early spring the groves ring with its joy. The colour is a brown of different shades on the upper parts, the chin white; belly and under tail coverts a greyish white. The throat, breast, and inner parts of the thighs are yellowish, spotted with dark brown. The average length is 9 in. The nest is made in hedges and thickets, bushes and trees, composed of roots and grass stalks with mosses, and plastered inside with mud. The eggs are bluish green, spotted with deep reddish-brown or black. Several broods are reared in a season.

Fig. 31   The Song Thrush and Snail.

Fig. 31 - The Song-Thrush and Snail.

The song-thrush is familiar to all within hearing of its song in town and country. It feeds upon worms and ground insects generally, and is very fond of snails, dexterously breaking the shells by hammering them against a stone, where often heaps of snail-shells may be found broken. The song-thrush also feeds upon fruit, wild and cultivated, and is particularly destructive to strawberries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries, and though fond of cherries, is not given to feasting so much on pears, plums and apples as the blackbird.