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A winter visitor from northern and eastern Europe; often in very large numbers

Photograph by: 
Pam Parsons

Redwing: time to move on

Post date: Monday, 10 November, 2014 - 00:00
For many bird species migration is a pretty programmed affair! By that I mean they know where they are going and when they are going. For example, swallows fly south to Africa in September, Brent geese fly south to Britain in October. For others life is a little more chaotic.
Some species move solely as a response to food supply and the impact the weathers has on their ability to feed. One of the most obvious examples of this kind of winter wandering migration in the Dorset countryside is the substantial numbers of redwing (Turdus iliacus) that come here from Scandinavia and northern Europe as the weather becomes colder there. Along with their relative, the fieldfare, they start to move as winter sets in and arrive in northern and eastern parts of Britain first but only when the going gets tough there do we start to see them in Dorset. In some winters we get huge numbers of them but if it is milder 'up north' we get less and if the weather gets too difficult for them here they fly off to France and other southern parts.
The redwing and fieldfare are species of thrush and are very much at home on farmland and can be seen in hedgerows scavenging the last remaining berries or on the ground hunting for worms and invertebrates. I have seen mixed flocks of well over a thousand birds at various locations in the county in some winters and we sometimes get small numbers in the garden too.


Redwing in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Post date: Monday, 14 January, 2019 - 18:23

Redwing are very definitely bad weather visitors to Dorset. They come, usually with their cousins the fieldfare, every winter but the colder and more severe the weather 'up north' the larger the numbers we see here in the soft south. They are members of the thrush family who they nest in Scandinavia and far northern places and a trip to Dorset in winter is an escape from the tough winter conditions that set in up there in autumn and winter.

As the weekly chart shows clearly you can expect to start seeing redwing from week 40 (early October) until week 12 (end of March) the following spring. To see one outside this time frame is very unusual. There is no specific peak in reports caused through regular migration; peaks in redwing sightings usually coincide with bad weather.

You can encounter redwing almost anywhere in Dorset in winter. Most often they will be in hedgerows and in isolated trees near farmland. They are ground feeding birds in general but take to the trees and hedgerows for berries and also as an escape from disturbance or predators. 

Telling you where and when you can reliably see redwing is impossible but as they are quite common in winter you should have no trouble in finding some somewhere in bad weather.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Redwing
Scientific Name Turdus iliacus
Status Occasional
Interest Level
Species Family Thrushes
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Farmland
  • Hedgerows
Look for A song thrush-like bird with distinctive eye stripe and reddish flanks
Additional Identification Notes
  • A winter visitor from Europe particularly if the weather is bad further north and east 
  • Tend to always seen in large flocks and often in the company of fieldfare (unlike the more solitary song thrush)
  • Superficially similar to a song thrush but with a distinctive eye stripe and reddish flanks