FIELDFARE (Turdus pilaris)


A relatively large thrush, the fieldfare is a winter visitor that usually arrives from Fennoscandia at the beginning of October. The numbers vary each year based on the berry crops in their breeding areas. When berry crops are lower then increased numbers will migrate and the UK winter population will increase as they feed on winter berries in parks, woodlands, and gardens. Some individuals have been recorded breeding in the UK, but the fieldfare remains on the red list where it has been since 2009.

Discover our Promises

Alert Status:


Estimated number of UK wintering: 720,000

Listen to Fieldfare song:


They are often seen in large feeding flocks of more than 200 individuals. The fieldfare has a chestnut brown back and wings with grey edges to the feathers, a black tail, and a blue/grey nape and head. Their belly is white and their breast is a light orange with black speckling on their flanks and breast. A white eyebrow stripe is sometimes visible.

Average Length: 25 cm

Average Lifespan: 2 years

Average Wingspan: 39-42 cm

BACK to a-z

Fieldfare diet

While wintering in the UK, their diet consists mainly of berries, such as holly and hawthorn, and fallen fruit. When they return to their breeding grounds their diet switches to invertebrates. They will visit gardens, especially during harsh winters so consider planting winter berries that will attract this bird.

Fieldfare Breeding and nesting information

Only a few pairs have ever bred in upland parts of the UK, however little is known about their breeding habits in the UK. In their breeding grounds, they begin breeding in April and they nest in small colonies. The nest is usually situated a few metres off the ground but will occasionally be on the ground. 5 or 6 eggs are laid and incubated until they hatch 2 weeks later. The chicks are then fed for 14 days until they leave the nest. Fieldfares will sometimes produce two broods before the breeding season ends in August.

Threats to Fieldfares

Conservation concerns surrounding fieldfares are not well understood at all, and while the population fluctuates annually, updated population estimates are needed. One of the only known drivers of population change is winter severity with extremely severe winters thought to be the reason this species went extinct in Greenland in the 1960s. Loss of suitable habitat containing healthy winter berry populations or change in berry crop is also likely to drive population declines in the future as it already drives annual variation.

How you can help

Plant autumn and winter berry bushes such as Holly and Rowan in your garden.  

Provide clean water throughout the winter months.

Fascinating Fact

Fieldfares nest in small colonies and are very aggressive in defence of their nest, often firing droppings at any would-be intruders!
Download Fact Sheet
Discover our Promises


BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Turdus pilaris. Downloaded from Accessed: 30/10/2023.

British Trust for Ornithology (2023) Fieldfare, BTO. Available at:  Accessed: 30/10/2023.

Hogstad, O., Selås, V., & Kobro, S. (2003). Explaining annual fluctuations in breeding density of fieldfares Turdus pilaris - Combined influences of factors operating during breeding, migration and wintering. Journal of Avian Biology, 34(4), 350–354.

RSPB (2023) Fieldfare, RSPB. Available at: Accessed: 30/10/2023.

Stanbury, A., Brown, A., Eaton, M., Aebischer, N., Gillings, S., Hearn, R., Noble, D., Stroud, D., Gregory, R., & Powell, D. (2017). The risk of extinction for birds in Great Britain. In © British Birds, 110(9): 502-517.

Woodward,I., Aebischer, N., Burnell, D., Eaton, M., Frost, T., Hall, C., Stroud, D.A.& Noble, D. (2020). Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and theUnited Kingdom. British Birds. 113: 69–104.  

Wysocki, D., Wawryniuk, K., Cieślińska, K., & Wojczulanis-Jakubas, K. (2023). Adoption and feeding of fieldfare nestlings and fledglings by European blackbird. Ecology and Evolution, 13(6).  

mag glass