Blackbird

Terdus merula

24-25cm

Appearance

A fairly stout bird, the male is mostly black; he has a yellow bill and a yellow-ringed eye. His legs are dark. Males in their first year have a dark bill, a less distinct eye-ring, and their plumage is a duller black. Females are brown overall, though they're darkest on the tail and wings and lightest at the breast and throat. Her breast is streaky. Juveniles resemble females but there is pale spotting underneath and on the back.

Habitat

Quite flexible, but Blackbirds prefer woodland areas, gardens, parks and hedgerows.

Character

When it lands, the tail rises and the wings sag. Some birds are quite protective of their territory, while birds on migration are much more social. Feeding occurs where the cover of vegetation is nearby; it often upturns leaves and loose debris in search of something to eat. Has a way of sunbathing that makes it appear very relaxed – the wings are splayed, the bill is open and the eyes are closed.

Food

Diet includes worms, insect larvae, caterpillars, beetles, snails, berries, fallen fruit and kitchen waste.

Breeding

Nesting usually begins in February, when the female lays between 3 and 5 eggs; she incubates them for about 14 days. Both parents feed the hatchlings, which fledge at about 14 days old. The parents split the brood and each care for half, though the female may leave hers sooner than the male in order to start another brood.

Population

Most Blackbirds that breed in the region are resident, though migrations reach the region during autumn from the north and east of Europe. There are approximately 5.1 million pairs in the UK and more than 1 million in Ireland.

Observation Tips

This is a widely distributed species that should not be too challenging to locate across the region, though it is not as common in upland winter territories.

Voice

A songful species, particularly the male who has a wide range of melodies, particularly between March and July. Has a 'tchak-tchak-tchak' call when disturbed, most commonly heard at dusk.
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