Blackbird, Turdus merula

The male Blackbird is often heard singing from the top of a tree, with the orange beak contrasting with the dark body. Otherwise you see both him and the duller female, looking for worms on a short lawn or grass area, cocking its head towards the ground, before running forward, every so aften probing for a worm, then repeating the process again, the bird seems to run more then walk whilst feeding this way. If you have them in your garden by feeding them currents you can intice them to feed from your hand given time. Other Names:
Black Ouzel was common in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Other names are Merle (Ireland and Scotland), Colly and Colly Bird (Gloucestershire – probably a corruption of coaly or black) and Zulu (Somerset).

Habitat: Gardens and countryside although not very high up hills.
Distribution: Worldwide: All Europe, Africa and Asia with Scandinavian and Russian birds migrating towards Africa. Introduced into Australia and New Zealand.
UK: All over the UK.
Numbers: Worldwide:
U.K. : 4 – 5 million breeding pairs. 10 – 15 million wintering individuals.
Food: Omnivorous eating insects, worms and berries. Sometimes small frogs, tadpoles and lizards may be taken.
Breeding: Males establish a breeding territory in their first winter. This will be held throughout the life of the bird. They are monogamous, remaining in a pair while both survive. Up to four broods a year may be raised depending upon the weather, although two or three is more common. Breeding is from late March until late July with chicks still being found in the nest in late August. Clutch size is usually 3 – 4 pale blue/green red speckled eggs with the larger clutches being laid in woodland. The female incubates the eggs and broods the young but they are fed by both parents. The chicks fledge at 13 – 14 days but can survive as early as 9 days old if the nest is disturbed. They learn to fly within a week and also start to forage for themselves, becoming independent within 3 weeks of leaving the nest.
Bill: Insect eating beak, bright yellow in male, dark in young birds
Length: 23 – 29 cm.

Blackbird

The deep, glossy black of the male Blackbird, with its golden orange bill and eye–ring, makes this bird one of the most recognizable for most people. Thomas Hardy referred to the ‘crocus coloured bill’ catching the warm, intensity of the colour beautifully.
The blackbird’s song is melodious and varied with warbles and flute–like notes with many phrases that are not repeated. The roosting call is a sharp, repeated single note and the mobbing call is a loud, low call that becomes hysterical and prolonged when alarmed.
Many Blackbirds nest early in the year, sometimes losing their brood to the cold, perhaps giving rise to the saying ‘when the blackbird sings before Christmas, she will cry before Candlemas’. However, Blackbirds tend to suffer less from severe winters than other members of the thrush family probably because they are more flexible in their feeding habits.
Now a common garden bird, we are familiar with the rustling sound of the search through the undergrowth turning over leaves looking for food. How many of us have carefully mulched the garden with tree bark only to find it all over the path, evidence of a blackbirds visit.
Both Shakespeare and Spenser preferred the name Ouzel to Blackbird and this is still used in some areas. Blackbird derives from the Anglo-Saxon blac plus brid. The Latin name for all of the thrush family is Turdus. Merula is also Latin and probably gives rise to the French name of Merle.
Some Blackbirds migrate South in the winter with other birds coming in from North and East Europe. Most live for 2 – 4 years but the oldest known bird lived for 21 years and 10 months.
The Blackbird is one of our native birds that displays a number of different colour mutations naturally in the wild, three that I have seen in the wild are, Pied, White and Cinnamon birds. These three mutations were regularly bred in captivity when I was active in the hobby, and often showed up on the show bench. The Blackbird or a Corvid was often one of the first softbill’s to be kept by a British bird breeding enthusiast.


Female Blackbird photography Painting by Pat Carlton of female Blackbird Blackbird in dogwood painting by Peter Bainbridge Male blackbird on lawn photo by Paul Cumberland
Female Blackbird, photography Painting by Pat Carlton of female Blackbird Blackbird in dogwood painting by Peter Bainbridge  male blackbird on lawn photo by Paul 
                      Cumberland
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