Significance to humans

In much of southern Europe, especially in Spain, Italy, Greece, and many Mediterranean islands, thrushes are still caught and killed in vast numbers. They are offered in restaurants and sold in supermarkets, bottled or as thrush pate. The overall effect of this long-term exploitation is difficult to determine, but, as it has been happening for so long, it is reasonable to assume that it is not threatening the species concerned. The ethical position, however, is a matter for the individual, and many people find the situation highly distasteful.

Most western Europeans prefer to enjoy their thrushes in a different way. Nightingales, with their wonderful song, have a special place in the poetry of some countries. Certainly, however, the presence of a singing song thrush or blackbird in the garden in spring is a great pleasure to tens of thousands of people. In North America, a nesting pair of bluebirds has a similar effect, and thrushes and chats include some of the best-loved garden birds in the world.

1. Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe); 2. White-browed robin chat (Cossypha heuglini); 3. Townsend's solitaire (Myadestes townsendi); 4. Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis); 5. White-crowned forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti); 6. Anteater chat (Myrmecocichla aethiops); 7. Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis); 8. Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos); 9. Stonechat (Saxicola torquata); 10. Rufous bush chat (robin) (Cercotrichas galactotes); 11. Blackstart (Cercomela melanura). (Illustration by Barbara Duperron)

1. Blackbird {Turdus merula); 2. Capped wheatear {Oenanthe pileata); S. Hermit thrush {Catharusguttatus); 4. Red-legged thrush {Turdus plumbeus); 5. American robin {Turdus migratorius); 6. Black redstart {Phoenicurus ochruros); 7. Spotted palm thrush {Cichladusa guttata); B. Olive thrush {Turdus olivaceus); 9. Rock thrush {Monticola saxatilis); 10. Siberian ruby throat {Erithacus calliope); 11. White's thrush {Zoothera dauma). {Illustration by Barbara Duperron)

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