Thrushes are easily recognised by their cream breast with little brown speckles. Their colouring might remind you of a wren, but they’re larger, they’re almost as big as a blackbird.

They have healthy appetites, and if you’re lucky enough to spot a thrush in your garden, he will most probably be foraging for food. Knowing what thrushes eat is the best way to attract them to your garden and to get their numbers swelling.

Thrushes are omnivorous. They enjoy most small invertebrates but their particular favourites are earthworms and snails.

When insects aren’t in plentiful supply, the thrush will look for fruits and berries.

What do thrushes eat in the wild

They love foraging through leaf piles for the vast array of insect life available there. If you have an abundance of clover, you are more likely to see a feeding thrush as they enjoy eating under or close to it. Ants and larvae also complement their diet.

Caterpillars, beetles, moths, and earthworms feature heavily in their diet. However, when the ground is too hard for their beak to penetrate, the thrush will go on the hunt for snails.

They love fruit and shrubs rife with berries; they have a fondness for fallen apples.

During spring and early summer, thrushes spend most of the day foraging for insects on which they can feed their young. Some seasons they go on to have a second or third brood.

Thrushes and snails

Snails are an important part of the thrushes diet. They have a clever way to get at the flesh beneath the shell. They use a stone as a hammer, and with a quick flick of the head, bash the stone against the shell until it cracks. This reveals the juicy, soft flesh that is a large, nutritious meal for thrush and their mate. 

If they find snails during the breeding season, they are a fantastic source of food the hatchlings.

What can I feed thrushes

As thrushes are predominantly ground feeders, that is how you should offer them food. If you haven’t got a dedicated feeder then sprinkle food directly onto the floor or a low platform.

Leftover berries are a rare treat, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are amongst their favourites. Raisins soaked in warm water until they’re plump and juicy are delicious to thrushes, and they also enjoy chopped grapes. I buy the pink, fruit-flavoured suet pellets which also seem to go down well. Dried mealworms are another good source of nutrition.

In very hot summers and harsh winters, when it is difficult for thrushes to dig worms from the ground, they might be tempted to diversify their diets a little. Sunflower hearts are rich in oils and excellent for a bird’s conditioning.

Ground feeding thrushes

When you fill your feeders and top up the tables, spare a thought for the ground feeding thrush.

Consider not using insecticides on lawned and landscaped areas, they can be harmful to the birds. Don’t be in a hurry to clear away leaf piles, as they are a vital food source to many birds, including the thrush.

Knowing what thrushes eat and how they like to be fed is useful knowledge in our efforts to improve the UK’s thrush population.