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Redwing Turdus iliacus

Within its European range it has experienced moderate declines, and although the majority of the population occurs outside Europe, it is suspected that at least some declines are occurring elsewhere in its range. It is therefore precautionarily uplisted to Near Threatened as it almost meets the requirements for listing as threatened under criteria A2b+3b+4b. More research is needed in Asian Russia to confirm the overall population trend.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

20-24 cm thrush. Greyish-brown plumage above with long buffy-white supercilium, buffy-whitish below with long lines of blackish spots radiating down from throat (Collar and de Juana 2013). Orange-rufous on flanks and underwing. Bill dark with yellowish base. Legs pinkish brown. Juvenile similar to adult. Voice Song a series of simple, monotonous phrases. Calls include distinctive drawn-out high-pitched buzz, "dssssi" or "srieh" contact calls.

Distribution and population
The species breeds from Iceland east through northern and eastern Europe and across much of Siberia, and winters in western and southern Europe, North Africa, around the Black and Caspian Sea basins and in adjacent south-west Asia (Collar and de Juana 2013). The nominate race iliacus breeds across northern and eastern Europe and winters in western and southern Europe, as well as around the Black and Caspian Seas. Race coburni breeds in Iceland and the Faeroe Islands (Denmark) and winters in western Europe.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 13,200,000-20,100,000 pairs, which equates to 26,300,000-40,300,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c. 40% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 98,000,000-151,000,000 individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 15.6 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015) this is supported by data from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands, P. Vorisek in litt. 2008) which shows that in Europe the populations has undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01) since 1980. However only around 40% of the species's range falls within Europe, with the global population trend dependent on trends in Asian Russia. In European Russia, the population has declined by >20% since 2000 and by >30% since 1980 (BirdLife International 2015). It therefore seems likely that the Asian Russian population has experienced at least some decline. The overall population is therefore suspected to be declining at a rate approaching 30%.

During the breeding season this species is found in forest-open country mosaics in lowlands and relatively low hills, with preference for mid-successional conditions, especially in river basins and on floodplains. It also inhabits open deciduous or mixed forest margins with fields and mires, clearings in primary forest, regenerating managed forest at the tall bushy stage with considerable understorey, shoreline thickets, tundra willow Salix and birch Betula scrub, scrubby semi-open cultivated sites, parks and gardens and thinned woodland with grassy areas around buildings. In the winter it uses open woodland, orchards and scrub thickets, wherever berry-bearing bushes and grassy areas are nearby. In more southern areas of winter range it may reach higher elevations than elsewhere, for example occupying orchards, olive groves and cedars in the High Atlas mountains, Morocco (Collar and de Juana 2013). The breeding season is from early April to late July, with some latitudinal variation. The nest is a bulky cup of grass, moss and twigs, bound with mud and bits of vegetation and lined with fine grass stems and leaves. It is sited on the ground in thick vegetation or low in a bush or tree or on a rotten stump. It feeds on invertebrates as well as seeds and berries in the autumn and winter. The species is chiefly migratory (Collar and de Juana 2013).

Population numbers can be very variable owing to the effects of harsh and mild winters, and of unfavourably cold summers (Collar and de Juana 2013). The species is also illegally trapped in the Mediterranean (Murgui 2014).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Tighter controls on hunting around the Mediterranean should be implemented.

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Collar, N. and de Juana, E. 2013. Redwing (Turdus iliacus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Hüppop, O.; Hüppop, K. 2003. North Atlantic Oscillation and timing of spring migration in birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 270: 233-240.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Jenni, L.; Kery, M. 2003. Timing of autumn bird migration under climate change: advances in long-distance migrants, delays in short-distance migrants. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 270(1523): 1467-1471.

Jonzén, N.; Lindén, A.; Ergon, T.; Knudsen, E.; Vik, J. O.,;Rubolini, D.; Piacentini, D.; Brinch, C.; Spina, F.; Karlsson, L.; Stervander, M.; Andersson, A.; Waldenström, J.; Lehikoinen, A.; Edvardsen, E.; Solvang, R.; Stenseth, N. C. 2006. Rapid advance of spring arrival dates in long-distance migratory birds. Science 312(5782): 1959-1961.

Murgui, E. 2014. When governments support poaching: a review of the illegal trapping of thrushes Turdus spp. in the parany of Comunidad Valenciana, Spain. Bird Conservation International 24(02): 127-137.

Tøttrup, A. P.; Thorup, K.; Rahbek, C. 2006. Patterns of change in timing of spring migration in North European songbird populations. Journal of Avian Biology 37: 84-92.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Zalakevicius, M.; Bartkeviciene, G.; Raudonikis, L.; Janulaitis, J. 2006. Spring arrival response to climate change in birds: a case study from eastern Europe. Journal of Ornithology 147: 326-343.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Wright, L, Pople, R., Burfield, I., Ashpole, J, Ieronymidou, C. & Wheatley, H.

Virkkala, R. & Vorisek, P.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Turdus iliacus. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Redwing (Turdus iliacus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Turdidae (Thrushes)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1766
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,370,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment