Whether singing its cheery song at daybreak or rustling through the leaf litter along a hedgerow, the Eurasian Blackbird is a ubiquitous species of town and country.
Close up of a female Blackbird
Blackbird perched on a branch (male)
Blackbird with a beak full of worms, to take back to feed the hungry chicks
Common blackbird, Eurasian blackbird
24cm to 27cm
34cm to 38cm
85g to 105g
‘Blackbird’ is an appropriate name for males of the species but an inaccurate description of females and juveniles. Continue reading to learn more about Blackbird identification.
Blackbirds are attractive, heavyset birds with well-developed legs and large eyes. Males are easily recognisable as jet-black birds with bright orange bills and a thin but distinct orange ring around each eye.
Female Blackbirds are grey-brown, unlike their male counterparts. Their upper parts are relatively uniform, although their throats, breasts, and bellies tend to have a somewhat mottled appearance. Females often have paler plumage on their throats. Their bills are dull orange, and they have an indistinct eyering.
Juvenile Blackbirds appear similar to adult females but have dark bills with a yellowish gape. Young birds also have more extensive mottling on the underparts, and pale spots are present on their upper wings.
Blackbirds are relatively large garden birds, being slightly bigger than a starling.
Most Blackbirds have a body length of 24 to 27 cm, measured from the bill tip to the tail tip.
Blackbirds weigh just a few grams when they hatch but grow rapidly to reach their adult weight of 85 to 105 grams.
The Blackbird wingspan measures 34 to 38 cm.
Close up portrait of a Blackbird
The song of the Blackbird is a familiar sound, particularly in the morning when males sing from exposed positions - a warning to any would-be intruders to clear off. Keep reading to learn more about Blackbird vocalisations.
Blackbirds produce a range of calls and songs, depending on the situation. Males sing to court their partners and to advertise their territories. Their typical song is a melodious and unhurried collection of high and low-pitched warbled notes.
Blackbirds occasionally include mimicry in their song, including unnatural sounds like sirens. They also produce less musical calls during aggressive interactions and when threatened by predators.
david m, XC619208. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/619208.
Blackbirds are commonly seen foraging on lawns and between shrubbery in UK gardens, but what exactly are they looking for? Continue reading to learn more about the Blackbird’s diet.
Blackbirds feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates, although their diet includes fruits and seeds. These birds will also prey on the occasional vertebrate, such as small fish, frogs, and nestling birds.
The following prey items (and their larvae) are important in the Blackbird diet:
Both parents feed the chicks a diet of soft-bodied invertebrates delivered directly to their open bills. Baby Blackbirds grow fast, fledging the nest after just two weeks or so.
Blackbird foraging for food in the grass
Blackbirds can dig through 5-7cm of snow to find food.
Blackbirds are easy to spot in the United Kingdom. Continue reading to learn more about their range and favoured habitats.
Look out for Blackbirds in a variety of habitats, from untouched woodlands in remote wilderness areas to town gardens and city parks. These birds prefer a mix of trees, shrubs and grassy areas, so they are common in larger gardens, orchards, and forest-edge habitats.
Blackbirds are widely distributed in Europe, including the United Kingdom and Iceland. They also extend into Asia as far as western China and North Africa along the Mediterranean coastline from Egypt to Morrocco.
The species was also introduced to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.
Blackbirds are often seen foraging on the ground. These birds sift through leaf litter for bugs or search lawns with an expert eye, poised to strike at any unwary invertebrates.
However, they will also forage in trees and shrubs for fruits and other morsels. At night, Blackbirds seek sheltered areas above the ground to roost.
Blackbird eating berries from a tree
Blackbirds are very common garden birds in the United Kingdom. Estimated populations stand at over five million pairs in the UK alone, and the species has a green conservation status.
Blackbirds are widespread in the UK, so you don’t need to go far to see these handsome birds. If you don’t have your own garden, a morning walk to the local park will probably be rewarded with a sighting or two.
The only places where you are not likely to spot Blackbirds in the UK are high-lying, treeless areas.
The blackbird has a long tail which is often jerked upwards and slowly lowered. It often makes quick two-footed bounds or walks a few steps before standing still for a few seconds and cocking its head, looking for worms.
In flight, its wings give it a more rounded shape than other members of the thrush family. Starlings have a similar size and body shape to blackbirds and its easy to confuse the two.
Blackbird in flight
Most Blackbirds live relatively short lives, with the everpresent danger of predators like cats and foxes, but a lucky few live to a grand old age. Read on to learn more about their lifespan, the threats they face, and their conservation status in the United Kingdom
The average Blackbird lives about three years or so. However, some individuals may live as long as two decades.
Check out this article for more information on how long Blackbirds live for.
Blackbirds have many natural predators, such as mammals like foxes, stoats, and domestic cats. Birds of prey like Sparrowhawks will take adult Blackbirds, while Magpies, Jays, and other corvids often feed on their eggs and nestlings.
Blackbirds are protected in the United Kingdom by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.
Blackbirds are not endangered, and according to the IUCN, the global population is increasing. The Blackbird population has recovered to healthy levels in the United Kingdom, despite declines in the late 20th century.
Close up of a male Blackbird foraging for food in the woods
Blackbirds usually nest from March to August and may have three broods in good years. The female does the bulk of the work, building the nest, incubating the eggs, and brooding the chicks, although males do chip in when it comes to feeding the young.
Female Blackbirds usually build their mud-lined nests low down in shrubs or other vegetation. They often nest in gardens, where they tend to begin earlier than pairs out in the country.
Check out our complete guide on Blackbird nesting.
Blackbirds lay three to five blue-green eggs covered in red-brown speckles. Each egg measures approximately 29 millimetres long and 21 millimetres wide.
Blackbirds are a monogamous species, and pairs often mate for life. However, studies have shown that cheating is common despite their usual fidelity.
Juvenile Blackbird waiting to be fed
Blackbirds nest with eggs
It is fascinating to watch Blackbirds as they forage with jerky, almost mechanical movements. These active birds can be highly territorial and even aggressive at times, but tolerant and almost sociable at others. Read on to learn more about Blackbird behaviour.
It's not unusual to see Blackbirds fighting, and both sexes will pile in over a territorial dispute. These birds hold the same territory throughout the year, and trespassers are not tolerated during the breeding season.
Blackbirds can become remarkably tame in urban and suburban settings, especially once habituated to humans after being fed.
During the nesting season, Blackbirds roost in pairs or singly in dense vegetation in their territory. In the winter, territorialism is relaxed, and large communal roosts may occur in thickets and other suitable locations.
Blackbird singing from a branch
Blackbirds are a partially migratory species, with some populations undergoing regular, medium-distance migrations and other remaining within their nesting territories throughout the year. Continue reading to learn about Blackbird migration habits in the UK.
Blackbirds are present throughout the year in the United Kingdom, and most of the population is non-migratory. However, some northern nesters head south (within the UK) for the winter, and the local population is joined by overwintering birds from elsewhere in Northern Europe each year.
Check out our comprehensive guide on Blackbird migration.
Close up of a perched female Blackbird
Blackbirds are territorial creatures that share our gardens and urban spaces throughout the year. They undoubtedly grow accustomed to our presence within ‘their’ territories, and birds that are fed regularly probably learn to recognise the individuals that feed them.
Blackbirds are a natural part of healthy environments, including our parks and gardens. They are generally lovely creatures to have around, although some gardeners woe their habit of digging up mulched flowerbeds and eating beneficial earthworms.
On the plus side, Blackbirds also feed on pest insects, and these birds are a joy to watch.
Blackbirds are not overly aggressive towards other bird species, although some individuals become rather aggressive in the nesting season and will even chase off other garden birds within their territory.
This is a shy, medium to large thrush, similar in size and stance to the common Song Thrush found throughout Europe.
The only summer-visiting thrush to breed in Britain, Ring Ouzels arrive on their breeding grounds on upland moors and crags, particularly in Scotland and northern England.
A widespread breeding resident and the UK’s largest thrush, this extremely vocal bird has a song which can be heard at a distance of up to two kilometres.
Predominantly confined to Europe and Russia the fieldfare is a winter visitor to the UK. It is a large, spotted, mixed habitat thrush slightly smaller than the British resident Mistle Thrush but similar in overall appearance. During winter months in particular, fieldfares are commonly seen in large flocks in southern continental Europe and the UK.
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