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British Bird of the Month: Blackbird

British Bird of the Month: Blackbird
By Rob Gale 4 months ago

Characteristics

Found across the UK, the glossy black plumage of the male and the dark brown female make the Blackbird one of our most recognisable garden birds.

The Blackbird sings from a perch, its song is rich, varied and flute-like, with a bit of a squeaky ending.

The male Blackbird defends its breeding territory aggressively with a “bow and run” threat display.

In the winter our population increases by an estimated 20 million with birds from Northern Europe.


What They Eat & What You Can Offer Them

The Blackbird feeds on insects and earthworms taken from the ground either by probing the ground, or noisily turning over leaf litter with its bill.

Like the Song Thrush, the Blackbird often runs across the garden, pausing briefly before taking some food, and running back to cover. Blackbirds will sometimes steal snails that Song Thrushes have cracked open.

In the autumn Blackbirds will often spend much time eating cotoneaster berries and windfall fruits. Leaving some windfalls for the insects and birds is a good and easy way to support garden wildlife. Also, Blackbirds will feed off the ground or from a ground bird-table, taking sultanas, raisins, and kitchen scraps

Where They Live & How You Can Help Them

The nest is an untidy cup built by the female. The nest is usually in a hedge or bush, though they will use shelves in huts and other outbuildings. Sadly the failure rates of young nesting birds can be as high as 90%. The 3-5 eggs can be laid in as many as three clutches in a season. The eggs take about 14 days to incubate.

If you grow a native British hedge in your garden you are likely to be able to provide a good nesting site for Blackbirds.

And Finally……..

Historically Blackbirds and other song birds were considered a delicacy, as in the rhyme ‘Sing a song of sixpence’ which had a rather sad ending for 24 Blackbirds . More recently the Beatles recorded a song ‘Blackbird’ which had a much happier ending for the bird!