Falling for Fieldfare
I know we should not have favourites, but let’s face it we all have a child we secretly favour or a pet we prefer over the other.
For us, on the farm, we would like to admit one of our favourites in the bird world is the Fieldfare.
It is believed their name originates from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Fledware’ which means ‘traveller of the fields.’ We think the name and meaning are quite beautiful.
Fieldfares are from the thrush world. They are large birds with a beautiful black and white flecked underbelly, grey heads, and tails with a deep brown back. Fieldfares are also incredibly elusive and only come to the UK throughout the winter months when the weather is much warmer than their home in Northern Europe.
Up to one million Fieldfares will migrate throughout Europe for the winter months! From the end of October, keep your eyes wide for the Fieldfares returning from Scandinavia. The British countryside is blessed with flocks ranging from a dozen to several hundred so they are relatively easy to spot.
October to March is the perfect window of opportunity to spot the charismatic bird.
Fieldfares are the social butterflies of the bird kingdom and are generally seen in large flocks, often flying alongside Redwings. Both birds are part of the thrush family and I guess you could say they are long, lost cousins.
They are very chatty and chirpy birds with what some might say highly gregarious behaviour! The constant chuckling alarm type calls make them virtually unmistakable.
Their calls are loud and high pitched! They tend to look and behave much like a mistle thrush, and you can find them on farmland along hedges and in fields.
They generally only come into our gardens when there is snow on the ground. They prefer to remain out in the countryside and feed on berries and any remaining fallen apples!
Hide & Seek
Fieldfares can be spotted hiding in all habitat types across the UK, which makes them easier to find. You can expect to see them in woodlands, parks, open fields and hawthorn hedges with berries are a typically favourite feeding area.
If you are very lucky you may possibly spot a Fieldfare or two in your garden if there is severe weather and the countryside is covered in snow or the ground has frozen.
Fieldfares often nest in small colonies and are extremely careful against egg-thieves. The nest is made from twigs, dry grass and lined with mud. They very rarely nest in the UK, preferring to set up home in their own country.
Fieldfare will feast on an array of different foods. Their diet consists of snails, slugs, insects, and worms in the summertime. In the winter they switch to soft grain, berries, and seeds.
They do love to eat fallen fruit if there is snow on the ground put a few apples cut in two out in the garden with flesh side up. You may well be lucky enough to attract a Fieldfare or 50!
You could also place a ground feeder to give them some extra cover and make them feel safe eating in your garden. A ground feeder laced with super soft and tasty apple will tempt even the most elusive Fieldfare to your garden.
If the ground is snow-ridden, throwing seeds into the garden may well help too.
The Great Defender
I think our favourite fact about the Fieldfare is the way they defend their nests! They will dive-bomb any and all predators who try and approach their nest, usually by firing poo at them to keep them away.
You have been warned!