The Blackbird (Turdus merula) can be found almost anywhere in the UK from gardens to the countryside, in woodlands and even near the coast. The male blackbird can be easily recognised by its orange yellow beak and an orange yellow ring around each eye, but the female blackbird isn’t black but brown with dark spots and streaks on her breast. How confusing is that!

Blackbirds forage for food on the ground near dense hedgerows and bushes so that they are partly under cover. When looking for food they often run or hop for a short distance and then suddenly stop as though they are listening out for something and then they run and hop again until they find food. They have a varied diet eating such things as worms, caterpillars, insects, beetles and berries. On sunny days they like to sunbathe and often you will be able to see a blackbird with its wings spread out wide, with its beak open and eyes closed. They really do enjoy the sun!

At dusk time in winter small numbers of blackbirds roost together in dense hedgerows and shrubs to keep warm. During this roosting period and before they settle in for the night, they all sing together making a chink-chink-chink sound. They sing their loudest at this time so they are easily heard. In the day their songs are much mellower and more melodious with a slow clear warble, making listening very pleasant to the ear indeed. They can be heard March to July. However, the male starts singing around the end of February to attract a female and it is at this time that you may be able see a male fluffing out his feathers, then spreading out his tail which he moves up and down like a fan all to impress the lady.

Nesting can begin in February and the female Blackbird will build her cup-shaped nest in hedgerows or dense bushes. The nest is made of grass, straw and small twigs and is lined inside with mud and fine grass. Females usually lay three to five eggs which are a greenish blue colour with reddish black spots. After two weeks the chicks hatch and then after another two weeks the chicks get their first coat of feathers making them ready to leave the nest.

Photo Credit: © Copyright David Tomlinson