This week I have been fortunate enough to see a flock of redwings here at the Falls of Clyde reserve. There are less than ten resident breeding pairs found in the UK and they can be found in the far north of Scotland. The only time we really get to see them is when they migrate here from Iceland and Russia. It is a toss up as to where these particular redwings came from, although the Icelandic form is meant to be darker in colour and more heavily streaked. They generally arrive in October and November and are sometimes just passing through on their way to warmer climes.
The favourite food of the redwing is haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree, and these nomadic birds will wander far and wide throughout the winter looking for food. They are very susceptible to cold weather and will forage for food in gardens and urban areas to escape the freezing conditions. If it is a mild winter you are most likely to see them along woodland edges and on farmland. Along with eating berries, you can often see them on the ground looking for insects, as you would a blackbird.
Redwing identification is not the easiest especially as they aren’t commonly seen for you to ‘get your eye in’. They are from the thrush family and are a little bit smaller than a blackbird. They have a short tail, pink legs, bold white stripe above the eyes and rusty red patches under the wings. In flight the look similar to starlings so if you are out walking and you see starlings fly overhead, make sure to take a closer look incase they are in fact redwings! Interestingly, they are nocturnal migrators, often calling out as they fly overhead.
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger