Trophic links of the song thrush (Turdus philomelos) in transformed forest ecosystems of North-Eastern Ukraine

Keywords: foraging stereotype; transformed areas; trophic groups; diet; dendrophilous birds; zoophages; phytophages; saprophages.


The diet spectrum of the song thrush (Turdus philomelos Brehm, 1831; Passeriformes, Turdidae) was studied with the aim of supporting the population of the species in transformed forests of North-Eastern Ukraine. Four forest ecosystems were surveyed: three model sites in oak woodlands with different stages of recreational digression, and the fourth model site in a pine-oak forest. A total of 45 invertebrate taxa with the dominance of Insecta (64.6%, n = 1321), Oligochaеta (16.7%), and Gastropoda (12.0%) were revealed in the diet of the song thrush. At the level of orders, Lepidoptera (66.2%) was dominant. In the qualitative structure of the song thrush nestling diet, the highest number of taxa (40.5–59.1%) was represented by phytophages. Phytophagous species also comprised the majority of the consumed prey items (44.7–80.3%). Environmental conditions are an important factor, affecting the diet composition of birds. The most favourable foraging conditions for the thrushes were revealed in natural protected areas. The analysis has shown a fairly even foraging efficiency of the thrushes in all the studied sites. The highest biodiversity indices were found in a protected area of the National Nature Park “Homilshanski Forests”. The results of the research indicate an important role of T. philomelos in the population management of potentially dangerous agricultural pests.


Abramova, I. V., & Haiduk, V. E. (2017). Ecology of thrush breeding (Turdus, Turdidae, Passeriformes) in South-Western Belarus. In: Current issues of zoological science in Belarus: Proceedings of the 11th International zoological conference dedicated to the 10-year anniversary of the foundation of the Scientific-Practical Bioresources Centre of National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. A. N. Varaksin Press, Minsk. Vol. 1. Pp. 8–17.
Aleksandrova, I. V. (1959). Materialy po pitaniyu pevchego drozda v gnezdovoy period [Materials on the song thrush diet in the breeding period]. Zoologicheskii Zhurnal, 38(1), 137–138 (in Russian).
Amar, A., Hewson, C. M., Thewlis, R. M., Smith, K. W., Fuller, R. J., Lindsell, J., Conway, G., Butler, S., & MacDonald, M. A. (2006). What’s happening to our woodland birds? Long-term changes in the populations of woodland birds. RSPB research report number 19, BTO research report number 169. Sandy and Thetford, RSPB/BTO, Anon. 1998.
Amrhein, V. (2013). Wild bird feeding (probably) affects avian urban ecology. Avian Urban Ecology, 29–38.
Anderson, J. F., & Magnarelli, L. A. (1993). Epizootiology of Lyme disease-causing borreliae. Clinics in Dermatology, 11(3), 339–351.
Assandri, G., Bogliani, G., Pedrini, P., & Brambilla, M. (2017). Insectivorous birds as “non-traditional” flagship species in vineyards: Applying a neglected conservation paradigm to agricultural systems. Ecological Indicators, 80, 275–285.
Baillie, S., Marchant, J. H., Crick, H. Q. P., Noble, D. G., Balmer, D. E., Coombes, R. H., Downie, I. S., Freeman, S. N., Joys, A. C., Leech, D. I., Raven, M. J., Robinson, R. A., & Thewlis, R. M. (2006). Breeding birds in the wider Сountryside: Their conservation status 2005. BTO Research Report No. 435. BTO, Thetford.
Baranovsky, A. V. (2008). Ryabinnik (Turdus pilaris), belobrovik (T. iliacus), pevchiy drozd (T. philomelos) i chernyy drozd (T. merula) [The fieldfare (Turdus pilaris), redwing (T. iliacus), song thrush (T. philomelos) and common blackbird (T. merula)]. Birds of Ryazan Meshchera. Golos Hubernii, Ryazan. Pp. 144–153 (in Russian).
Barnard, C. J. (1980). Flock feeding and time budgets in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus L.). Animal Behaviour, 28(1), 295–309.
Batáry, P., Fronczek, S., Normann, C., Scherber, C., & Tscharntke, T. (2014). How do edge effect and tree species diversity change bird diversity and avian nest survival in Germany’s largest deciduous forest? Forest Ecology and Management, 319, 44–50.
Berezantseva, M. S. (1997). Pitanie gnezdovykh ptentsov chernogo drozda Turdus merula i sravnenie ego s pitaniem ptentsov pevchego drozda T. philomelos v lesostepnoy dubrave “Les na Vorskle” [The diet of the common blackbird nestlings Turdus merula and its comparison with the diet of the song thrush nestlings T. philomelos in the forest-steppe oak grove “Forest on the Vorskla”]. Russian Ornithological Journal, 20(6), 12–20 (in Russian).
Blair, R. B., & Johnson, E. M. (2008). Suburban habitats and their role for birds in the urban-rural habitat network: Points of local invasion and extinction? Landscape Ecology, 23(10), 1157–1169.
Blinkova, O., & Shupova, T. (2017). Bird communities and vegetation composition in the urban forest ecosystem: Correlations and comparisons of diversity indices. Ekológia (Bratislava), 36(4), 366–387.
Brygadyrenko, V. V. (2014). Influence of soil moisture on litter invertebrate community structure of pine forests of the steppe zone of Ukraine. Folia Oecologica, 41, 8–16.
Brygadyrenko, V. V. (2015). Community structure of litter invertebrates of forest belt ecosystems in the Ukrainian steppe zone. International Journal of Environmental Research, 9(4), 1183–1192.
Bulakhov, V. L., Gubkin, A. A., Ponomarenko, O. L., Pakhomov, O. Y. (2008). Biologichne riznomanittya Ukrainy. Dnipropetrovska oblast'. Ptahy: Negorobcepodibni (Aves: Non-Passeriformes) [Biological diversity of Ukraine. Dnipropetrovsk region. Aves: Non-Passeriformes]. Dnipropetrovsk University Press, Dnipropetrovsk (in Ukrainian).
Bulakhov, V. L., Gubkin, A. A., Ponomarenko, O. L., Pakhomov, O. Y. (2015). Biologichne riznomanittya Ukrainy. Dnipropetrovska oblast'. Ptahy: Gorobcepodibni (Aves: Passeriformes) [Biological diversity of Ukraine. Dnipropetrovsk region. Aves: Passeriformes]. Dnipropetrovsk University Press, Dnipropetrovsk (in Ukrainian).
Caprio, E., & Rolando, A. (2017). Management systems may affect the feeding ecology of great tits Parus major nesting in vineyards. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 243, 67–73.
Chaplygina, A. B. (2000). K voprosu o biotsenoticheskoy roli ptits v ekosistemakh (na primere roda Turdus) [On the issue of a biocoenotical role of birds in ecosystems (by the example of the genus Turdus)]. In: Birds of the Seversky Donets basin. Proceedings of the 6th and 7th conference “Study and protection of birds of the Seversky Donets basin”. Donetsk. Pp. 51–57 (in Russian).
Chaplygina, A. B. (2009). Osoblyvosti roztashuvannya gnizd drozdiv rodu Turdus v transformovanyh landshaftah Pivnichno-Shidnoyi Ukrayini [Characteristics of nest locations of thrushes of the genus Turdus in transformed landscapes of North-Eastern Ukraine]. Berkut, 18(1–2), 131–138 (in Ukrainian).
Chaplygina, A. B. (2018). Dendrofil’ni gorobcepodibni (Rasseriformes) yak strukturno-funkcional’nyj element antropogenno transformovanyh lisovyh biogeocenoziv Pivnichno-Shidnoyi Ukrayiny [Dendrophilic passerines (Passeriformes) as a structural-functional element of anthropogenically transformed forest biogeocoenoses of North-Eastern Ukraine]. Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, Dnipro (in Ukrainian).
Chaplygina, A. B., & Savinskaya, N. O. (2016). Sovremennoe sostoyanie ornitofauny transformirovannyh landshaftov Severo-Vostochnoy Ukrainy na primere Muscicapidae i Turdidae [Current status of the avifauna of transformed landscapes of North-Eastern Ukraine by the example of Muscicapidae and Turdidae]. Russian Ornithological Journal, 25(1252), 615–647 (in Russian).
Chaplygina, A. B., Gramma, V. N., Bondarets, D. I., & Savynska, N. O. (2015). Arthropods in trophic-cenosis structure of collared flycatcher consortium in conditions of forest ecosystems of North-Eastern Ukraine. Visnyk of Dnipropetrovsk University, Biology, Ecology, 23(1), 74–85.
Chaplygina, A. B., Yuzyk, D. I., & Savynska, N. O. (2016). The Robin, Erithacus rubecula (Passeriformes, Turdidae), as a component of autotrophic consortia of forest cenoses, Northeast Ukraine. Vestnik Zoologii, 50(4), 369–378.
Chaplygina, A. B., Yuzyk, D. I., & Savynska, N. O. (2016). The Robin, Erithacus rubecula (Passeriformes, Turdidae), as a component of heterotrophic consortia of forest cenoses, Northeast Ukraine. Part 2. Vestnik Zoologii, 50(6), 493–502.
Domokos, E., & Domokos, J. (2016). Bird communities of different woody vegetation types from the Niraj Valley, Romania. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 40, 734–742.
Dranga, A. O., Gorlov, P. I., Matsyura, A. V., & Budgey, R. (2016). Breeding biology of rook (Corvus frugilegus) in the human transformed steppe ecosystems (the case of Botievo Wind Farm). Biological Bulletin of Bogdan Chmelnitskiy Melitopol State Pedagogical University, 6(1), 41–62.
Faly, L., & Brygadyrenko, V. (2014). Patterns in the horizontal structure of litter invertebrate communities in windbreak plantations in the steppe zone of the Ukraine. Journal of Plant Protection Research, 54(4), 414–420.
Felton, A., Hedwall, P. O., Lindbladh, M., Nyberg, T., Felton, A. M., Holmström, E., Wallin, I., Lof, M., & Brunet, J. (2016). The biodiversity contribution of wood plantations: Contrasting the bird communities of Sweden’s protected and production oak forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 365, 51–60.
Gensiruk, S. A. (2002). Lisy Ukrainy [Forests of Ukraine]. Schevchenko Scientific Society, Lviv (in Ukrainian).
Gregory, R. D., Noble, D. G., Field, R., Marchant, J. H., Raven, M. J., & Gibbons, D. W. (2003). Using birds as indicators of biodiversity. Ornis Hungarica, 12–13, 11–24.
Hamer, K. C., Newton, R. J., Edwards, F. A., Benedick, S., Bottrell, S. H., & Edwards, D. P. (2015). Impacts of selective logging on insectivorous birds in Borneo: The importance of trophic position, body size and foraging height. Biological Conservation, 188, 82–88.
Hernández, Á. (2009). Summer-autumn feeding ecology of Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypolueca and Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata: The importance of frugivory in a stopover area in North-West Iberia. Bird Conservation International, 19(3), 224.
Kirby, W., Black, K., Pratt, S., & Bradbury, R. (2005). Territory and nest-site habitat associations of Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata breeding in Central England. Ibis, 147(2), 420–424.
Korňan, M., & Adamík, P. (2017). Tree species preferences of foraging insectivorous birds in a primeval mountain mixed forest: Implications for management. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 32(8), 671–678.
Lommano, E., Dvořák, C., Vallotton, L., Jenni, L., & Gern, L. (2014). Tick-borne pathogens in ticks collected from breeding and migratory birds in Switzerland. Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, 5(6), 871–882.
Malchevskij, А. S., & Kadochnikov, A. S. (1953). A method of in vivo study of the nestlings’ diet of insectivorous birds. Zoologicheskij Zhurnal, 32(2), 227–282 (in Russian).
Markova, A. O. (2016). Aggressive behaviour of Robins Erithacus rubecula (Passeriformes, Muscicapidae) at watering places in the forest steppe zone of Ukraine. Visnyk of Dnipropetrovsk University, Biology, Ecology, 24(2), 283–289.
Matsyura, A. V. (2018). Effectiveness of antiperching devices against the feral pigeons. Ukrainian Journal of Ecology, 8(2), 326–328.
Morelli, F. (2013). Relative importance of marginal vegetation (shrubs, hedgerows, isolated trees) surrogate of HNV farmland for bird species distribution in Central Italy. Ecological Engineering, 57, 261–266.
Moreno-Rueda, G., & Pizarro, M. (2008). Relative influence of habitat heterogeneity, climate, human disturbance, and spatial structure on vertebrate species richness in Spain. Ecological Research, 24(2), 335–344.
Nadtochiy, A. S., & Chaplygina, A. B. (2010). Dolgovremennyie izmeneniya srokov prileta ptits v Harkovskuyu oblast [Long-term changes in timing of bird arrival in Kharkov region]. Branta, 13, 50–62 (in Russian).
Newton, I. (2007). The Palaearctic-Afrotropical migration system. In: Newton, I. (Ed.). The migration ecology of birds. Academic Press. Pp. 699–727.
Paker, Y., Yom-Tov, Y., Alon-Mozes, T., & Barnea, A. (2014). The effect of plant richness and urban garden structure on bird species richness, diversity and community structure. Landscape and Urban Planning, 122, 186–195.
Paralikidis, N., Papageorgiou, N., Tsiompanoudis, A., & Kontsiotis, V. (2009). Song thrush Turdus philomelos winter diet in Mediterranean habitats: A case study in Greece. Avocetta, 33, 109–111.
Peach, W. J., Robinson, R. A., & Murray, K. A. (2004). Demographic and environmental causes of the decline of rural Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos in lowland Britain. Ibis, 146, 50–59.
Robinson, R. A., Green, R. E., Baillie, S. R., Peach, W. J., & Thomson, D. L. (2004). Demographic mechanisms of the population decline of the song thrush Turdus philomelos in Britain. Journal of Animal Ecology, 73(4), 670–682.
Shupova, T. V. (2017). Transformatsiya raznoobraziya ornitofauny pod deystviem rekreatsionnoy nagruzki [Transformation in the diversity of avifauna under the influence of recreational load]. Biosystems Diversity, 25(1), 45–51 (in Russian).
Suri, J., Anderson, P. M., Charles-Dominique, T., Hellard, E., & Cumming, G. S. (2017). More than just a corridor: A suburban river catchment enhances bird functional diversity. Landscape and Urban Planning, 157, 331–342.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

> >>