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The Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) is named after its Latin name – viscivorus means devourer of mistletoe. In continental Europe, Mistletoe berries are an important food source, but in the UK, they prefer holly and hawthorn berries. Common to much of Europe, Asia and North Africa, is a pale, black-spotted thrush - large, aggressive and powerful. Mistle thrushes are noticeably larger than song thrushes, with a longer tail. Mistle Thrush is a large thrush, larger than Blackbird and huge compared to Song Thrush, it measures close to 30cm and is therefore a third larger than Song. They have pale grey-brown upperparts, and their white underparts are heavily spotted, with the spots on the belly and flanks more rounded in appearanceand pointing downwards. They have a rattling call, particularly when alarmed or disturbed. A colloquial name for mistle thrush is ‘stormcock’. This comes from their tendency to defend territories from the top of the tallest tree, even if it is windy and raining. Their ‘fluting’ phrase is one of the earliest signs of spring, and they usually start singing by late January. Mistle thrushes will fiercely defend their food sources, especially large isolated holly bushes.
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