Mistle thrush

Mistle thrush

©Amy Lewis

Mistle thrush

Scientific name: Turdus viscivorus
The mistle thrush likely got its name from its love of mistletoe - it will defend a berry-laden tree with extreme ferocity! It is larger and paler than the similar song thrush, standing upright and bold.

Species information


Length: 27cm
Wingspan: 45cm
Weight: 130g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021).

When to see

January to December


The mistle thrush is a large songbird, commonly found in parks, gardens, woodland and scrub. It probably gets its common name from its love of mistletoe. It enjoys the sticky berries and, once it has found a berry-laden tree, will guard it from any would-be thieves. In turn, it helps mistletoe to thrive by accidentally 'planting' its seeds while wiping its bill on the tree bark to remove the sticky residue; it also disperses the seeds in its droppings.

How to identify

The mistle thrush is pale greyish-brown above, with a white belly covered in round, black spots. It is larger and greyer than the similar-looking song thrush.


Widespread, but absent from the highest uplands and some Scottish isles.

Did you know?

The mistle thrush is also known as the 'storm cock' and 'rain bird' as it can be heard singing loudly from the tops of high trees after spring rains.