Key facts

Scientific name: Turdus iliacus

Status: Winter visitor, rare breeder

Breeding birds: 4 – 16 pairs

Wintering birds: 690,000

Conservation status: Red

Length: 20 – 24 cm

Wingspan: 33 – 35 cm

Weight: 40 – 80 g


The redwing is the smallest of the thrushes with grey-brown plumage, orange flanks and a prominent buff stripe above each eye.

They have black streaks on their throats which continue down onto their breasts. Redwings have black bills, dark brown eyes and pink legs and feet.

Juveniles look similar to adult redwings, but with less orange and heavily spotted underparts.


Redwings usually breed alone but will sometimes form small colonies. They build their nests on the ground, hidden in dense vegetation or sometimes in a low tree of bush. The build a cup-shaped nest from grass and twigs which is bound with mud and lined with finer grasses and leaves.

Redwings lay 4-6 pale blue eggs with reddish-brown marks. The female incubates the eggs for 10-14 days and chicks fledge 12-15 days after hatching but will still depend on the adult male for another two weeks.


Redwings eat a variety of invertebrates including flies, caterpillars, crickets, dragonflies, spiders and mayflies. During autumn will also eat fruit, berries and seeds, foraging on the ground to find their food.


Where to see them

Migrant redwings arrive in September and October, leaving the following March and April. They can be found all over the UK in open countryside but will come into parks and gardens when it is colder and will eat windfalls or from ground feeders. They often form flocks with fieldfares.


Terje Kolaas/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The first birds to be shown to find fruit using ultraviolet vision were redwings in an experiment where they could choose between UV-reflecting bilberries and bilberries that had been rubbed so they did not reflect the light.

3 more birds

Identification guides

Birds in your inbox

Sign up for the latest news and updates

Gifts, bird care, books  & more

Most popular

More reading