Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

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The redwing (Turdus iliacus) is a bird in the thrush family Turdidae, native to Europe and Asia, slightly smaller than the related song thrush.

The English name derives from the bird’s red underwing. It is not closely related to the red-winged blackbird, a North American species sometimes nicknamed “redwing”, which is an icterid, not a thrush. The binomial name derives from the Latin words turdus, “thrush”, and ile “flank”.

The redwing has two subspecies:

  • T. i. iliacus, the nominate subspecies described by Linnaeus, which breeds in mainland Eurasia.
  • T. i. coburni described by Richard Bowdler Sharpe in 1901, which breeds in Iceland and the Faroe Islands and winters from western Scotland and Ireland south to northern Spain. It is darker overall, and marginally larger than the nominate form.

It is 20–24 cm long with a wingspan of 33–34.5 cm and a weight of 50–75 g. The sexes are similar, with plain brown backs and with dark brown spots on the white underparts. The most striking identification features are the red flanks and underwing, and the creamy white stripe above the eye.

The male has a varied short song, and a whistling flight call.

Migratory in winter.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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