Fieldfares and Redwings – sightings in gardens

There seem to have been a lot of fieldfares and redwings seen in gardens recently. 

The frozen ground has made it impossible for them to feed in the fields where they usually feed.

As usual, when the going gets hard birds head for the gardens, for urban areas, for places where there is food.  Here are some comments from people.  Thought you may be interested


Sue on January 7th, 2010 Gosport, Near Plymouth  

I have been amazed today of a flock of birds i have never seen before, they were eating the berries from a tree opposite my house, i couldnt make out there markings at first but later on i was in the front garden and they came back to get the last of the berries and i saw them clearly.

i came in and looked them up in my Hamlyn bird book and found they were Fieldfair.Which is a large Thrush. There must have been about 30-40 birds, in my book it says they come from Europe and that small numbers have colonized britain mind you this book was printed in 1978. 

RAY said, on January 8th, 2010 


Phil said, on January 8th, 2010 

Likewise, 5th Jan flock of 20 birds arrived on tree, rear garden. (Belfast Northern Ireland). Never seen the breed before. However identified on the 7th as ‘Fieldfare’. They stayed for 3 days from first light to dusk. It would seem that the flock have now moved on.

Trish said, on January 9th, 2010

Hi Sue, How lucky you caught sight of these birds. I would imagine that the frosts and snow have ‘locked’ up a lot of their food in the ground so they have to be braver and come nearer to us humans.

Some Fieldfares come from Scandinavia and are winter visitors and migrate to Britain in October / November. They don’t nest here. Other fieldfares are European fieldfares

Fieldfares eat animals and plants – so they eat worms or berries. Pleased your Hamlyn bird book is still useful. Trisha

Hi Ray, These bird books come in useful don’t they. So you saw Redwing. I believe they often join flocks with fieldfares

Hi Phil

It seems the freezing snow and snow covered land is making the search for food harder. At least these birds found some food. Feeding for 3 days that would do them proud. I wish them well in their travels!

Thanks for getting in touch. I’d like to hear more about any birds you’ve seen or how you come on at the RSPB Garden Birdwatch


If any of you would like to visit my birdtablenewsforum. I have renewed this forum after having a short absence – as a place to get together and discuss anything birdy.

Trisha from birdtablenews


mike on January 9th, 2010 

i  saw 4 redwings in the garden (well in the tree at the back). i have a number of feeding sites and nesting boxes around the garden which may have enticed them here due to the exteme weather conditions. i know they are a winter migrant and are not normally found in urban areas. is this an unusual situation as they have been here quite a while. 

mike on January 9th, 2010 

got the camera and cam corder set up – now counted 7 redwings – they are feeding off my fire thorn and also off the bushes of my neighbour but they always return to the tree in my garden.

Trish said, on January 9th, 2010 

Hi Mike, You have redwings as well. Your garden seems to be a life saver for them. I think the frosts and snow have locked up and hidden their food. I suppose to survive they have to go in search of food – and have found it in your garden. So the extreme weather conditions have driven them to your garden and to your food. Bird feeding does work and help birds survive the winter. Trisha
I have just restarted a birdtablenews forum where readers can meet and discuss. I have just restarted

Helen said, on January 10th, 2010 

Hi there, I have been housebound for 3 weeks following an operation so with the cold blast we’ve had I’ve been enjoying feeding the birds. I have got a number of feeders in an old tree and have been getting the usual visitors, but I had been getting a solitary fieldfair for the past few days. He seems healthy enough and spends most of the time in my garden, I identified him online and was surprised just to see a solitary one as it seems to be usually sighted in flocks. Interesting to see other people seeing this handsome bird.

jim said, on January 10th, 2010 

HI Iwas looking though my binoculars at my bird feeder and notice the bird on it was a black cap. is this unusualfor this time of year 10/1/2010

Trish said, on January 10th, 2010 

Hi Helen, sorry you’ve been housebound. Hope you are recovering. On the plus side it has meant you have seen this fieldfare.

Yes it is interesting that other people have seen fieldfares. It just shows what a harsh winter we are having and how birds are having to change their habits to get food. The bird food you are putting out must be helping this solitary chappie and it must be helping him survive through to the Spring
I have a newish forum because I thought it would be a good place to gather together info and chat. If you’d like to visit this is the link

Trish said, on January 10th, 2010 

Most blackcaps only visit in the sumer. But some blackcaps from northern and central Europe are staying here during the winter. Maybe this is because of the milder winters we have been having and the fact that there are bushes with berries and that we do actually put bird food out
I don’t think I have ever seen a blackcap. Will have to find out more about them. Wonder if you will see on on the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
I have renewed my forum called
Let us know if you do see one, or just visit and note birds you’ve seen. Trisha

Ciaron said, on January 11th, 2010 – Rostrevor, Co Down

 I was surprised on Saturday 9/1/10 to see a strange bird searching through the undergrowth in my garden and amazed a short time later to see a flock of about thirty feeding on nearby hedges. I identified these as Redwings and then observed some Fieldfairs nearby. I have never seen either of these birds before. Whilst coming off Knockshee Mountain on Sunday afternnoon I came across 4 Lapwings feeding in the Kilfeghan area of Killowen, Co. Down. All in all it was a good weekend for watching birds!

Trish said, on January 11th, 2010 

Hi Ciaron, How exciting to see a strange bird in your garden. So you have seen a flock as well. You will see from the comments that there are a few fieldfares and redwings in gardens.

It’s true that gardens are a haven for many birds. As I’ve said before the frost and snow has locked up their food so they have to find food elsewhere. Hunger must make them brave.

Lapwings as well – you are lucky.

Will put this information on my birdtablenews forum

Am wanting to keep all these sightings together. It’s something new I’m doing – feel free to visit.

Molly said, on January 12th, 2010 Devon

i have been watching the birds in the garden, and getting ready for the 2010 Bird watch campaign. In the last 3 days i have been visited by a family of 3 red-wings and to my surprise 2 Fieldfare, but within hours of the visit from the Fieldfare i looked out of the window to see at least 10 Feildfare or could have been 12, sitting in and old dead tree in the garden, what a shock!. As they are fruit feeding birds same as the Redwing and i don’t have berries or fruit in the garden, does this mean they were just passing or do you think they will pop in again? I was so pleased at seeing them, and did consult my books before i decided to write, but i am definate it was Redwing and a large family of Fieldfare, 

Trish said, on January 13th, 2010 

Hi Molly, I’m so pleased you decided to write.
You say you come from Devon. Is your part of Devon covered in snow because I think the redwings and fieldfares food is locked in under the snow and ice. The soil is covered in snow and so they cannot get to any worms etc. This means they have to search further afield for food and cover.

Looks like one or two have come first and then passed the word on that you have a good garden!

Redwings and fieldfares do flock together. Fieldfares and redwings eat animals and plants – so they eat worms or berries and fruit, If you put out some cut up apple or pears. They eat Pyracantha berries off bushes and hawthorn berries as well.

If you do put out any fruit it’s best to cut it up small first. I’ve also heard that they have been seen eating ground blend bird food.


PS I think it’s a good idea to watch birds a while before taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch – gets you used to timing the hour and actually counting birds.

Mike said, on January 14th, 2010 


we have a pair of fieldfare disputing rights to my garden. My wife takes an active interest in our bird population, but I have been cool about it until my recent retirement. the fieldfare arrived about a week ago and immediately pounced upon the apples that my wife puts out daily for our resident blackbirds. sadly, our blackbirds are now paranoid about the fieldfare who sees them off at the drop of a hat. They also charge at our smaller birds who are posing no eating threat to them and we are getting concerned about their wellbeing. Not sure what to do.

Mike Bristol

Ps 2 of my daughters, one local and the other in Uxbridge have identical situations so there is clearly a large number of fieldfare in the UK.

Trish said, on January 14th, 2010

Fieldfares would usually be out in the countryside but their food is locked under the snow and ice so to survive they are coming to warmer urban places.
Birds are competing for food which is in very short supply. Food is a life and death matter for birds as it is in such short supply – they seem to be competing fiercely – but they want to survive.

This is very unusual, but this is an unusual winter.

One idea is to spread the food around the garden. Perhaps we should buy a lot of English apples, cut them up small and scatter them on the garden so there is enough food for all the birds!

Every bird is fighting for survival this winter. I don’t think the population of fieldfares has increased I just think that they are coming into our gardens to survive.

They do eat seeds as well.



Tips, advice, sightings or just any birdy news welcome.


13 thoughts on “Fieldfares and Redwings – sightings in gardens

  1. Maryann

    I have seen many redwings in my garden too this last week, a lovely compact thrush with red underwings and stripes around the eyes. They came in flocks of maybe 15-20 and sat in a tree. I put apple on the ground for them, but only saw the blackbirds take that!

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  3. Trish Post author

    Hi Maryann, that is a lovely description of a redwing

    I’ve never seen a flock of either redwings or fieldfares so I think you are lucky.

    I thought that they were coming into the gardens because of the frozen ground hiding all their food. It will be interesting to see if they still keep coming into gardens in large numbers when the snow has gone.

    Thanks for getting in touch. Really interesting.


  4. Ennelyn Schmidt Roberts

    I was off work for some time beginning of January and spent a lot of time watching our little garden. About 18 birds I had never seen before came to us every day. I now know they must be redwings. THey were so funny in character and lovely to watch. Even in this cold weather they bathed in our water feature and drank from the pond. They ate all the remaining kiwi fruits from our two trees and generally explored the whole garden. I was so happy and have told many people, but was not able to capture them on camera. I believe that the blackbirds watched them eating kiwis because suddenly the blackbirds did it as well and I had never seen them do that before. Even with the snow the normal feeding places were all accessible to them. Anyway, I felt proud and priviledged that the redwings had chosen to come to our garden.

  5. Alena

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  6. Trish Post author

    Hi Alena, thanks for reading my blog. Really pleased you enjoyed it. I don’t think I write about anything special – just ordinary things.
    Thank you for saying you will visit often. Look forward to hearing from you. Do you feed birds?
    If there’s anything special you’re interested in let me know as it may be something I’m thinking of writing about.
    Cheers. Trisha

  7. Trish Post author

    Hi Ennelyn, It must have been lovely to watch them in their daily routine. Eating and exploring – sounds good to me.

    I know that it’s so difficult to get birds on camera. I get so annoyed sometimes

    Well fancy you seeing survival in action – blackbirds copying from fieldfares. So now blackbirds have another source of food – and just because they watched the fieldfares

    Thank you for getting in touch. Good to hear from you.

    Can I ask where you live if you have kiwi fruit

    Hope you are better now. Trisha

  8. Ennelyn Schmidt Roberts

    We live in South London and have two kiwi trees, last summer was not hot enough sothe fruit only got to plum size. We have so many different birds in the garden, it is amazing. Best ever: male and female red/black woodpecker feeding their young one on our terrace.

  9. Trish Post author

    South London and kiwi trees! size.
    Woodpecker feeding their young – I bet not many people have seen that. it does connect you to nature doesn’t it?

    It’s really interesting you have so many birds in a London garden. it’s not how I imagine London – but I am thinking of the City Centre!

    I sometimes think it would be interesting to hear about people who don’t have gardens yet still feed birds. I think of towns when I think of people balcony birding but I should change my ideas shouldn’t I

    Best. Trisha

  10. neil lydia

    hi im in derby and have a flock of about 20 for about the last 2 weeks eating from my holy bush feb 2012.

  11. Trish Post author

    Hi, that is really interesting. You are very lucky and must have had such a good sighting of them.

    Thanks for telling us about it.

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