european nature gallery


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Common blackbird

The common blackbird is a species of true thrush. It is also called Eurasian blackbird (especially in North America, to distinguish it from the unrelated New World blackbirds), or simply blackbird where this does not lead to confusion with a similar-looking local species. It breeds in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. It has a number of subspecies across its large range; a few of the Asian subspecies are sometimes considered to be full species. Depending on latitude, the common blackbird may be resident, partially migratory, or fully migratory.
The adult male of the nominate subspecies, which is found throughout most of Europe, is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill and has a rich, melodious song; the adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage. This species breeds in woods and gardens, building a neat, mud-lined, cup-shaped nest. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, berries, and fruits.
Both sexes are territorial on the breeding grounds, with distinctive threat displays, but are more gregarious during migration and in wintering areas. Pairs stay in their territory throughout the year where the climate is sufficiently temperate. This common and conspicuous species has given rise to a number of literary and cultural references, frequently related to its song.
The common blackbird breeds in temperate Eurasia, North Africa, the Canary Islands, and South Asia. It has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. Populations are sedentary in the south and west of the range, although northern birds migrate south as far as northern Africa and tropical Asia in winter. Urban males are more likely to overwinter in cooler climes than rural males, an adaptation made feasible by the warmer microclimate and relatively abundant food that allow the birds to establish territories and start reproducing earlier in the year. Recoveries of blackbirds ringed on the Isle of May show that these birds commonly migrate from southern Norway ( or from as far north as Trondheim) to Scotland, and some onwards to Ireland. Scottish-ringed birds have also been recovered in England, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden. Female blackbirds in Scotland and the north of England migrate more (to Ireland) in winter than do the males.
Common over most of its range in woodland, the common blackbird has a preference for deciduous trees with dense undergrowth. However, gardens provide the best breeding habitat with up to 7.3 pairs per hectare (nearly three pairs per acre), with woodland typically holding about a tenth of that density, and open and very built-up habitats even less. They are often replaced by the related ring ouzel in areas of higher altitude. The common blackbird also lives in parks, gardens and hedgerows.


(latin: Turdus merula)

Wednesday, 24 July 2019