Go Blackbird Go!

Blackbird Turdus merula

This Blackbird was singing so beautifully from my rooftop aerial this late afternoon when it decided to take off.


Blackbird (Turdus merula), Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

The Blackbird And The Cotoneaster

I filmed this delightful Blackbird feeding on berries in my front garden through my study window a few years back now. He was so engrossed in his feeding that he paid no attention to the folk passing nearby on the pavement.

For more information on this wonderful bird please click on the image below:

Blackbird (Turdus merula) male

Eating The Fruits of Winter

Blackbird (Turdus merula) male

Photograph of Blackbird (Turdus merula) male, taken December 2016, local canal, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

She Looks

Blackbird (Turdus merula) female

Photograph of Blackbird (Turdus merula)  female, taken January 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

Sunbathing Blackbird

Blackbird Sunbathing

I couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at when I came across this female Blackbird (Turdus merula) sunning itself in the heat of the day back in the July of 2013. As you can see in the photos it has its wings and tail splayed, and back feathers ruffled.

Blackbird Sunbathing

It is quite interesting to observe this unusual behaviour which is known as sunning, and apparently the birds looks directly into the sun with one eye. Others species of bird have been observed sunning, but not as much as the Blackbird. It is not known why birds do this, but it is maybe a way of maintaining their plumage, regulating temperature, or just for the pure joy of it! It seemed so preoccupied in its sunbathing that I was able to get fairly close to it before it flew off, and returned to exactly the same spot not long after. Later I saw it sunning again by a tree stump.

Just to note I did wonder whether it was anting at first, but I saw no ants at all in the vicinity where the Blackbird was sunning, so I ruled this out. I also wondered whether it was going to dust its feathers, but it didn’t. It just lay still there in the full glare of the midday sun apparently just chilling – or cooking!

Photographs of Blackbird (Turdus merula), taken July 2013, Warley Woods, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Blackbird

Turdus merula

Blackbird (Turdus merula) male

I have a particular fondness for blackbirds, for they always reminds me of my boyhood, of a huge elm which grew in my parents front garden just outside my room, and of the sweet early blackbird song which issued forth from the high boughs. Sadly the tree has long gone with many others as Dutch Elm disease swept the country back then, yet happily the blackbird still sings its sweet soothing melody.

Blackbird (Turdus merula) male

Also called the ‘Eurasian Blackbird’,  these true thrushes have a distinction between the sexes, with the male of the species being completely jet black, and the female with dark brownish back plumage with variable streaked or mottled underside. Both sexes have bright yellow-orange beaks, and yellow eye-rings. The juveniles have dark bills and gingery-brown plumage.

As ground feeders,  they eat worms, a wide range of insects,  fruit and berries, and are often visitors to the base of our bird tables scavenging titbits other birds have dropped. Breeding males state their territory by singing, and a pair may hold their territory over the year if the conditions are favourable. The nest is made from grass and mud forming a cup and lined with grass in a bush, a hedge or a low tree. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs in 2 to 4 broods from March to August. They can live for up to 5 years.

Seen all year round in various habitats including gardens, parks, hedgerows, commons, heaths, fields and woodland. The Blackbird is the UK’s commonest bird, mainly resident, although some may migrate to southern Europe for the winter. It is widespread throughout the UK. There are almost 5 million breeding pairs in the UK, and 10-15 million UK wintering birds as populations are swelled from visiting birds from Scandinavia and northern Europe. These migrant birds tend to have duller bills then our resident birds.

The Blackbird has a rich, melodious voice, and when the male sings its summer song from high tree tops it is said to even rival that of the Nightingale for its sweetness. Yet when disturbed or sensing danger it can be quite noisome with a sudden burst of loud, hysterical chatter.

Photographs of Blackbird (Turdus merula) taken February 2012, local wood (top image), and rear garden (bottom image), Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.