Tag Archives: Redwing

Harsh welcome for our summer birds

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

Redwings have a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. They  signal the usually long awaited coming of spring. Huge flocks of them arrived here April 5 and 6 from their winter grounds in Britain and Western Europe. They were, however, not welcomed with spring weather, but with a full-blown blizzard, one of the worst this winter.

Outside our window on April 5

The weather was as bad as it can get, with snow blowing into huge banks, the shivering birds covered in snow and the house trembling from the storm. It is likely that some if them have not survived this harsh welcome.

This sunny morning, in the snow and frost, there are around 30 singing Redwings in the garden, quarrelling over the feed trays – the garden resounding with their song.

The Great Backyard Bird Count – Cornell and Audubon

This weekend is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. People from all over the world take part and some Icelanders as well.

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

The Great Backyard Bird Count began in 1998.  Participants need to observe and count the numbers of different kinds of birds in their garden for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 14-17. Participants can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as they wish!
More information, and to register, see the website:

The Icelandic Backyard Bird Count is a similar event hosted by Fuglavernd in Iceland and is usually in the end of January.

Returning home

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

Redwings in the thousands arrived in Iceland on April 1st and 2nd. The groups in our garden were obviously tired and famished after their flight from the British Isles. Up to 65 Redwings were counted here, feeding on apples and sunflower seeds.

We expect spring to greet our newcomers warmly but that is not the case now. The weather has been windy with frost and snow – not a warm welcome at all.  The Redwings, however, do not seem troubled and are already singing their hearts out  which is sure to signal the coming of warmer days.

Teeming with Redwings

Just arriving – Redwings on Eyrarbakki coast

Yesterday the seashore at Eyrarbakki was teeming with Redwings. These are the migrants that arrived on April 3 in the thousands from their winter grounds in the British Isles. They are spread over the South coast, staying near the seaside because of the cold weather. The temperatures this week are going down to minus 6 – 7°C in the night-time.

Newly arrived Redwing on Icelandic shores

Some Redwings stay in Iceland for the winter but most migrate. Just on the shore at Eyrarbakki their numbers were estimated to be at least 500 – 700. The Redwing is one of the best loved migratory birds  in Iceland and its arrival is awaited and  welcomed because it signals the coming of the long awaited spring.

Breeding time

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

During the breeding time the Redwing mostly eats worms and insects. At other times of the year it is more into  berries and seeds. Although the Redwing is considered one the Icelandic migrants,  big groups of them stay for the winter.


The Redwing builds its nest in various locations and usually lays 4 to 6 eggs which hatch in about 10 to 14 days. The young leave the nest after about two weeks and depend on the parents for an additional two weeks. Then the female often lays eggs for the second time.


Here you can hear the beautiful song of the Redwing:

Feeding the young ones

Skógarþröstur - Redwing _ Turdus iliacus
Skógarþröstur – Redwing  – Turdus iliacus

The Redwing is very busy these days. Finding food for its young ones is hard work and takes up a lot of time.  Worms and larva are on the menu every day.


This little chick had found a nice spot on our garden table yesterday morning. Two pairs of Redwings have made nests in our garden this spring so several chicks have been hopping around here lately.