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Quick facts

Common name: fieldfare

Scientific name: Turdus pilaris

Family: Turdidae (thrushes)

Habitat: farmland, open woodland

Diet: invertebrates, berries and fruit

Predators: sparrowhawks may take adults; eggs and chicks are vulnerable to a range of predators

Origin: native

What do fieldfares look like?

The fieldfare is a large member of the thrush family and is slightly bigger than a blackbird. It has a characteristic blue-grey head with a yellow beak, brown-grey wings and a speckled breast.

Not to be confused with: the redwing. These related species often flock together, but redwings are notably smaller and lack the blue-grey colouring of the fieldfare.

fieldfare feeding on hawthorn berries

Credit: David Whitaker / Alamy Stock Photo

What do fieldfares eat?

Fieldfares are migratory, spending the winter in the UK before flying back to Scandinavia to breed in spring. While on our shores, their diet features large amounts of berries and fallen fruit. Hawthorn, holly, juniper and yew are among the trees that provide an important food source for these birds. In summer, the fieldfare’s diet switches towards insects and invertebrates.

Did you know?

Fieldfares will aggressively defend a food source, such as fallen fruit. Other birds will be chased away if they get too close.

How do fieldfares breed?

A tiny number of fieldfares may breed in the UK each year. Little is known about the breeding habits of the species here, but around five to six eggs are normally laid. The chicks will hatch after around two weeks and fledge about 14 days later.

fieldfare in flight against bright blue sky

Credit: Andy Rouse / naturepl.com

Do fieldfares migrate?

Each year, thousands of fieldfares leave Scandinavia and even Russia to spend the winter in the comparatively mild UK. The birds typically begin to arrive in September and nearly all will have left by late April. You can help us discover if climate change is affecting fieldfare migration. Log your first and last sightings of the birds on Nature’s Calendar and help us decipher how the changing climate is impacting our wildlife.

Did you know?

The name fieldfare is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘feldware’ which meant ‘traveller of the fields.’

Where do fieldfares live?

Fieldfares can be found across the UK during winter. The birds primarily stick to rural areas, but will come into towns and gardens to search for food in periods of bad weather. When night falls, fieldfares rely on tall trees and large hedges as secure roosting sites.

fieldfare on branch

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Signs and spotting tips

Look for flocks of fieldfares in fields during the winter. They’ll often be intermixed with redwings so brush up on your ID skills to separate the two. Another good place to look for fieldfares is on and around fruiting trees. Planting trees such as hawthorn, holly, juniper and yew will increase the chances of attracting fieldfares, and a host of other species, to your garden. Listen out for the fieldfare’s ‘chacking’ call made when in flight.

Fieldfare call

Audio: Dominic Garcia-Hall / xeno-canto.org

Threats and conservation

The fieldfare is a common visitor in winter, with more than 600,000 birds typically migrating here each year. The number of birds that stay here all year is much smaller. In 2017, just two pairs are thought to have bred in the UK.