Discover some interesting facts about the nomad Redwing bird, which comes to nest here in Scotland over the winter…
- The redwing is a medium-sized bird with distinctive features. They look very much like small song thrushes, but are easily identified by the broad white stripe (supercillium) over the eye, and their red underwing.
- They are migratory birds that visit Scotland during the winter months – from October to April. They fly, usually by night, from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Scandinavia.
- In Scotland, redwings are known for their fondness for rowan berries, an essential food source during our harsh winter months. Their feeding behaviour significantly impacts the distribution of rowan trees, as Redwings help disperse the seeds. This is a remarkable example of coevolution in the natural world. Redwings primarily feed on a diet of berries, fruits, and insects.
- Redwings were the first bird species proven to detect fruit using ultraviolet vision. Interestingly, the waxy coat of a berry successfully reflects UV light, which attracts the hungry bird.
- They were classed as a Red List species of conservation concern, but in 2021 moved to the Amber List. Conservation efforts often focus on preserving their habitats and ensuring an adequate supply of food, including rowan berries, to support their winter populations.
You can read Jim Crumley’s Scottish wildlife columns online here, and each month in The Scots Magazine.