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Singing the praises of the song thrush

Lots of broken snail shells and perfect-looking hostas can mean only one thing...

Broken snail shells - evidence of a song thrush feastEarly on a Monday morning I tend to the area around Lady Anne’s House. Duties include watering plants in pots, a bit of dead-heading and a sweep around just to keep it looking nice. The garden is looking lovely this year and I notice that the hostas are looking good, with not too much snail damage.

I don’t know about you, but lately while the weather has been very warm, I have been noticing lots of broken snail shells. Cracked, broken and discarded with not a single snail in sight; something is having a feast…

Slimy delights

Song thrush preparing its slimy meal‘Tap, tap, tap,’ I hear. ‘Tap, tap, tap.’ I follow the sound and there it is; a hungry song thrush preparing its next meal. It doesn’t seem to care that I am near and carries on beating the snail on to a stone – like a hammer on an anvil. I wouldn’t want to be that snail! Finally the thrush has a beak full of slimy goo and looks very pleased with itself.

I notice what a lovely bird it is; a small and dainty feathery friend about the size of a blackbird and of the same genus. It has dark spots on its buff-flushed breast, orange-red underwing and generally a warm brown colour.

Song thrush whacking a snailThe song thrush is so named because of its loud and clear, musical flute-like notes of repetition and vigour. It prefers to nest in shrubberies around houses and can lay up to five light blue, black speckled eggs. It is a solitary bird, the hen incubating the eggs alone and having up to three broods a year. Song thrushes usually re-group during migration.

This happy little chap can usually be seen feeding on fruits, invertebrates and on lawns, dragging unsuspecting worms from their tunnels. When the ground becomes dry the worms travel deeper into the soil so the song thrush picks out snails as a substitute. So that’s why I have seen so many shells recently… and the hostas are looking good!

Useful links

Find out more about wildlife friendly gardening with Wild About Gardens

Read the RHS wildlife gardening blog

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