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Breeding of British Songthrush  - by Roger Tippett


After two years of fruitless success in breeding my thrushes, I realised that my feeding system was sadly lacking after visiting two of my colleagues who had successful bred both British & Foreign Softbills.  Both breeders used similar feeding systems that were formulated along similar lines.

The aviaries I used were probably minimal in size but adequate.  The floors were mulched with chipped bark overlaid with autumn fall leaves which were refreshed throughout the winter to spring.  In autumn & winter a dry food mix was used made up of chicken layers pellets, small cat or puppy biscuits, suet pellets mixed with insectivorous mixture and berries collected from the hedgerows early in the new year, puppy kibble and raisins, both soaked overnight with a few mealworms given as a conditioner.

A bird starts to come into condition as daylight & temperature increases towards spring time with extra food.

March arrived with the local Blackbird population telling me the breeding process had started; feeding was then

stepped up in line with advice I had received from colleagues.  With the aid of our kitchen food processor, a mix

was produced, not all ingredients at the same time, using cheese, carrot, broccoli, small tins of herring or

pilchards, corned beef, apple and any kitchen scraps available all mixed with insectivorous food, then moistened

with wheatgerm of sunflower oil, and then kept in the fridge for use as required.  This mix may seem

complicated but in reality was very easy & inexpensive.

The next concern was how to feed hatchlings?   The advice was to obtain from an Angling shop, some clean

white pinkies which for the first 2-3 days was adequate along with the previously mentioned mix. Next, again

from the Angling shop Dendrobena worms were used. These gave an unexpected spurt in growth which then

allowed me to close ring the young with size K rings.  Regular mealworms were also avidly taken.

This was a winning formula.

What was unexpected and un nerving was, when the young birds disappeared from the nest.  I stepped into the

aviary carefully to find the fledglings all safe scattered around and nestled under the leaf litter.  I knew this

happened in the wild but had not considered it.  Some 3 days later they were up on the perches, still trying to

hide.  From this point on the livefood was very gradually reduced but not totally and substituted with the soaked

Puppy kibble and raisins, with the mix..

The last thing to do was to have them DNA tested so that decisions on next year's pairings could be assessed.