Photo: © Weerawan. So much choice: on the internet Austin found an extraordinary array of thrushes that were available to buy, including black-breasted (Turdus dissimilis)

ALL of my young song thrushes have now completed their moult (see August 16 and 30, September 13 and November 8, 2017, issues). At the time of writing, I had managed to exchange a double split young cock for one of my own and now I can make an unrelated pair with the young satinette hen I bred. Three of the other young cocks have found new homes, so I have the original satinette x cinnamon pair and this unrelated pair. The one remaining young cock is hopefully forming part of a show team that will also include the mutation thrushes, for which I have received the special licence to show.

Those of you who have followed my previous articles will know that flight space is limited; so, with the two flights occupied by the song thrushes, I have taken the difficult decision that the orange-headed thrushes (Geokichla citrina) will almost certainly move on. Two of the young birds – a cock and hen – have already gone to make up unrelated pairs. I intend to keep the other young closed-ringed cock as part of the show team for now.

The adult pair has fully moulted and is in superb condition. With their first full moult it seems apparent that they are not, in fact, of the white-faced cyanota subspecies. They have the facial stripes but not the clear-cut white face and the likelihood is that they are either aurimacula or courtoisi. A local fancier will take them if I decide it is best to move them on, so they will not go far.

The decision is also influenced by the fact that I have managed to acquire a young 2017-ringed cock Siberian thrush (G. sibirica), which I am delighted with. I am currently scouring adverts here and on the Continent for a hen. I will cover this species and how I managed to acquire it in a future separate article.

I have one other unpaired cock, a chestnut-backed thrush (G. dohertyi), which I actually acquired with a view to obtaining a hen. However, that was before I got hold of the satinette song thrush cock and cinnamon hen pair. As a result, this is another sole cock that may form part of a show team, although he is quite heavily in the moult around the face and neck area.

Back in October last year I attended the National Exhibition at Stafford. Perhaps, as in my case, the early show date was a problem, but it was a little disappointing that there were no thrushes at all in the foreign bird section and only four examples in the British section. These were a satinette and a blue blackbird, a normal redwing and also a cinnamon mutation redwing – which was the first example I had seen. There were very few on the sales tables, either. I only saw examples of grey-backed (Turdus hortulorum), orange-headed and common rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis).

This contrasts with what I have seen scanning the internet and I have been amazed at the number of species that are actually available, especially on European websites. Sometimes the translation does not exactly work but I now know that a “kastanjeruglijster” is a chestnut-backed thrush and a “zanglijster” is a song thrush. (I’ve still no idea what an “intoxicating trug thrush” is, though!)

Over a period of eight to 10 days I found this list of species available to thrush enthusiasts like myself: red-legged (T. plumbeus); Japanese (T. cardis); black-breasted (T. dissimilis); chestnut (T. rubrocanus); pale-breasted (T. leucomelas); grey-backed; hermit (Catharus guttatus); chestnut-capped (G. interpres); chestnut-backed; orange-sided (G. peronii), which was advertised as a “Timor thrush”; orange-headed including various subspecies; common rock; white-throated rock (M. gularis) – all listings I have seen are as “Amur rock thrush”; and red-bellied rock, which without a photograph I took to be the philippensis subspecies of the blue rock (M. solitarius) but could also have been chestnut-bellied rock (M. rufiventris).

Whew! It’s just as well I only have limited flight space. There were also many blackbirds and song thrushes to be had, both normal and mutation colours… but, alas, I only wanted ads for Siberian thrush. However, I will keep looking. Watch this space!

Austin’s next Thrushes Bulletin will appear in the February 7 issue.

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