Birds on Stamps

Turdus philomelos 

Turdus philomelos

In English fi

The Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos), like the Fieldfare (Räkättirastas in Finnish, literally “The Yawping Thrush”) has gained its Finnish name due to its singing talents - even its scientific name philomelos means “song lover”. But unlike the Fieldfare, whose utterances are displeasing to say the least, the Song Thrushes beautiful sounds are a significant part of the Finnish “scenery”. Jussi Seppä describes the Song Thrushes singing in his book Linnut ja maisema (1945) as follows:

“ … But over yonder can be heard a vivid musical tale, an instrumental flirtation. Whoever else could it be but the Song Thrush, the venerated storyteller and weaver of wit. Wherever this bird is narrating is dullness an unfamiliar concept, for time runs by with such haste that the day isn’t long enough. The Song Thrush is foremost a lover of the flute, but can pull out any other instrument as well, if the show so demands. With a delicate taste is a correct method of expression chosen for each performance. It plays its part with an epical seriousness, devotion, and vast imagination. When truly engulfed in its singing, the bird won’t lay down to rest even at midnight, but keeps on singing through the night, until the early morning hours. By its nature it’s melancholic, strong, slow and somewhat introverted.”

A short sample of the bird’s song can be heard by clicking this.

This inhabitant of lush forests nests in all of Finland including the northern parts, but more so in southern Finland. Of our species if the Turdus, the Song Thrush is the third most numerous. The amount of couples nowadays is estimated to be about 600.000 to 900.000. The harshness of winters on the areas where it spends the winter is likely to explain such a large fluctuation. The species is a summer guest in Finland, migrating to western and southern Europe for winter.

By its appearance the bird, like many other masterful singers, is modest. From above, the Song Thrush is brown, and light yellowish from below. Its general appearance is that of a basic bird. In terms of size it’s equal to the Redwing, and clearly smaller than our other thrushes of the Turdus. If you can identify a thrush, the Song Thrush is fairly easy to discern, since the same-sized Redwing has a clear white stripe at the corner of its eye, a white upper moustachial stripe, and red sides.

The nesting begins with the male claiming the territory. The Song Thrush is clearly a territorial bird, with a relatively large territory. In May the female, having arrived at the male’s territory and coupled with him, builds a nest, which differs quite significantly from other birds’ nests. While somewhat regular when it comes to the outer- and middle structure, the interior is constructed to form a perfectly smooth, cork-surfaced cup, made from rotten wood mixed with saliva. The female lays three to five blue-green eggs, decorated with some black spots. The brooding lasts for approximately two weeks. Both parents feed the hatchlings with worms, snails, insects and with a little bit of vegetation. The young birds stay in the nest for about two weeks.

The Song Thrush, being more timid than our other thrushes as it is, can easily abandon its nest if disturbed, especially during brooding. The birds migrate back to their winter areas during September and October.


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