Have you ever heard the word ‘fieldfare’? It sounds like some kind of travelling show, or perhaps the food that we get from our fields. In fact, it is the name of a bird.
Fieldfares are a type of thrush and we don’t get that many of them here in the UK. They spend most of their time in Scandinavia and only come here for a few months in the autumn and winter. It’s for that reason that they got their name – the Anglo-Saxon word feldefare translates as field traveller.
If you want to see some fieldfares the best place to look is in (you’ve guessed it!) a field. They like to feed on the berries of the hawthorn which grow in the hedges around fields, parks and meadows. But in the harshness of winter, when food is hard to find, they may even venture into your garden.
As well as berries, fieldfares will also dine on fallen fruit. If you have a fruit tree in your garden, resist the temptation to throw away any windfalls. Instead, if you leave them on the ground they can provide a much needed meal for many of our bird species – including the fieldfare.
If you don’t have a fruit tree you may still be able to entice the fieldfare into your garden – particularly if the ground is covered with snow. They also like to forage in the soil for worms but, when it has been snowing, they can’t do this. Put out some scraps of food – fruit, bacon rind, suet etc. – and, if you are lucky, you may have a visit from a flock of fieldfare. But even if you don’t see any (there are only about 750,000 in the whole country) you can rest assured that your efforts will be a help to the wildlife in your garden.
If you’d like to know more about the fieldfare then I can heartily recommend the British Garden Birds website. It can tell you much more than I have the space to do here and you can also hear its call and its song. And then why not play this free quiz all about British species of thrush? Is the fieldfare in there? Go play it and find out!