Blackbird (Turdus merula)

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Description

As the name suggests, blackbirds are totally black. They have bright golden-yellow beaks that darken near the end of summer, and a neat yellow ring around their eyes that appear during spring and summer. These are the male blackbirds; females are brown in colour, with dark, streaky mottling on the paler, rufous breast.  The juveniles resemble females, but they have pale spots on the upperparts. They are around 23.5 – 29cm in size, and are typically short lived birds, with an average life space between 3-4 years. Only a few are able to reach an advanced age. 

Habitat

Blackbirds are versatile creatures and can be found from city centers to highlands moons, including woodlands, gardens, copses and parks.

Life Cycle
Distribution

Blackbirds can be found almost everywhere worldwide; UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. 

Migration

Widespread throughout Britain, with the exception of Scottish highlands, there is a large migration of blackbirds during winter from Scandinavia, Germany, the Baltic States, and parts of Russia and Finland. However, the British population has been declining since the 1970s but may now be recovering. 

Behaviour

Male blackbirds will establish a territory during their first year that they will hold throughout their lives. This territory is essential for pair formation and nesting. As a monogamous species, once a relationship has been established, they will usually remain together as long as they survive. The male blackbird will attempt to attract the female with a courtship display that will consist of oblique runs combined with head bowing movements, an open beak, and a ‘strangled’ low song. The female in response will remain motionless until she raises her head and tail to permit copulation.

Calls

Blackbirds have a range of vocalizations is produced, including a loud ‘pli-pli-pli’ alarm call, and the fluty, melodious song. A male blackbird has numerous calls which vary given the situation; from a melodious low-pitched flute sound that can be heard from trees, rooftops or other elevated perches in the months on March to June, it can change to an aggressive call for predators such as cats which include various ‘chink and chook, chook’ and ‘pook-pook-pook’ alarm like vocalizations. The territorial male invariably gives chink-chink calls in the evening in an (usually unsuccessful) attempt to deter other Blackbirds from roosting in its territory overnight. 

Food

They are omnivorous and eat a wide range of insects, earthworms, seeds and berries, mainly feeding on the ground. 

Conservation status

Turdus merula, under the IUCN Red List is classified as Least Concerned.

References

Date Accessed: 21/08/2013S

1)      Common Blackbird http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Blackbird

2)      Blackbird (Turdus merula) http://www.arkive.org/blackbird/turdus-merula/

3)      Blackbird http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/b/blackbird/territory_and_social_behaviour.aspx