SONG THRUSH (Turdus philomelos)

Grive musicienne

As the French name suggests this is one of Europe's most exuberant songsters. The full throated liquid joy and determination in the song of this bird stays in everyone's minds. In Switzerland it is not the common garden bird of further north, but it is found in all woodlands right up to the tree line. Its high-pitched  shrill song is a series of short bursts where the same phrase may be repeated 3-4 times with odd chuckles and warbles thrown in. The phrases which are repeated are enunciated so clearly that they are almost identifiable in human language. North and Simms describe some of them as "Is it free ? is it free ? is it free ?" and the double syllabled ones as "philip ! philip ! philip !", you can certainly hear the latter (maybe as Filipe, Filipe, Filipe ?) in this sequence, but I am sure you can make up your own phrases that you hear to help you learn it (long file be patient !):

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It is the repeating phrases that are diagnostic, very variable in themselves (and some researchers have recorded mimicry in this species), but always repeated.The exactness of the repititions can be appreciated by viewing the sonogram:

The only real confusion might be with a Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) (Merle à plastron), but only if you are at high elevations, and the latter lacks the sheer joy and determination of the Song Thrush. The above recording was a fairly vigorous delivery, here is one that is altogether more chilled out and slower in delivery and is reminiscent of the Ring Ouzel:

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Definitely a bird to learn this one !


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