The redwing is a member of the ‘thrush family’ and is most likely to be seen in winter. It’s estimated that as many as around 8.5 million or so redwing will typically winter in the UK.
Despite the numbers wintering here, there are actually very few breeding pairs in the UK – in fact the RSPB web site reports there are as few as just thirteen breeding pairs.
Where can they be found?
Redwings can be found across the UK in countryside rather than towns, and are a rare garden visitor, They would normally be found feeding in fields and hedgerows feeding on fruit and berries but as the winter continues and that supply of food dwindles you may find them moving on to more open spaces where they will look for earthworms, so you may spot them in parks and playing fields.
They tend to arrive from around September time with most of them reaching the UK towards the back end of the year in October and November.
Their journey will have started in the autumn, initially gathering along the coast of Scandinavia before setting off across the North Sea to the UK, a journey of around 500 miles or so.
They wont all make it. If the weather is bad some will simply crash into the sea and drown. Some of the birds will arrive from Iceland and spend their winter in Scotland and Ireland.
Some will spend their winter in the south of England or further south in Europe, but by the time we get to March/April most of them are off again on the journey back north, although on occasion they may stay later.
Some redwings will have wintered in Spain and southern Europe and many of them will stop off in England on the journey north and a few pairs will stay in Scotland to breed.
Schedule 1 protection
The redwing is listed as a Schedule 1 species of The Wildlife and Countryside Act. In practice what this means is that in addition to the protection that all birds have – these have extra protection during the breeding season along with their nests, their eggs and their young – and a special licence must be obtained if these are to be disturbed.
The pictures below were taken in the Tame Valley in February 2021.
Clicking on any of the picture below will open a picture gallery that you can click through