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North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
1 Current status
Although still common and widespread, the Song Thrush went into dramatic decline in the mid-1970s with an estimated reduction in numbers of 73% in farmland and 49% in woodland between 1968 and 1993. Overall numbers fell by 50% between 1970 and 2005 but more recently have increased by 17% between 1994 and 2006. The decline is believed to have been more marked in the north of the country.
The species is partly migratory with many British birds wintering in southern Europe and being replaced by Scandinavian breeders. The causes of the breeding decline are believed to be linked to a very high level of mortality of first-winter birds. Recent research indicates that Song Thrushes may need to produce up to five broods per year in order to maintain their population level and that recent habitat changes have reduced them to an average of 2-3 broods a year.
The Song Thrush is a Priority Species in the UK BAP on account of its population decline.
Anecdotal evidence suggests a large decline in North Merseyside in recent years but the species remains widespread, breeding in 90% of surveyed tetrads in 1997-2000 and absent only from the most built-up areas.
The North Merseyside population was estimated at 500 breeding pairs during 1997-2000. These were mostly quite thinly spread with an average density of about one pair per square kilometre, similar to the average for the whole of Lancashire. Liverpool supports the highest densities with closer to 1.5 pairs per sq. km. The largest concentrations occur in suburban areas of south Liverpool and Blundellsands, and in the Prescot Reservoir/Eccleston Mere area of St. Helens - perhaps suggesting that gardens and parkland are crucial local habitats.