One of the easiest garden birds to identify, the adult male Blackbird is black with the female being brown. The male also has a bright yellow beak, though the colour is browner on younger birds. Both sexes are about the same size. Blackbirds, which are members of the thrush family, are very territorial in nature and if other blackbirds encroach on their territory they are quick in trying to remove them from their patch. They are one of the first birds in the morning to start the dawn chorus and usually the last birds singing in the evening
Blackbird diet and food
Earthworms and a huge variety of insects are staple foods for the Blackbird, along with berries and fruit when they’re in season. Indeed, the ability to switch to very different foods as the seasons change is part of the blackbird’s success, which is another reason they take so readily to food put out for them in gardens
What should I feed Blackbirds?
From the Vine House Farm range these foods include Ground Mix, Robin and Friends, chopped peanuts, sultanas (ideally soaked in water first), oats, suet pellets and live mealworms.
Blackbird nesting and breeding habits
Blackbirds make their substantial nest from mixed plant materials combined with some mud for reinforcement, with only the female doing the building. The location is usually in fairly thick vegetation such as a hedgerow, though they will sometimes use an open-fronted next box provided it is well concealed (perhaps in a wall climbing plant). Breeding starts in March, with between two and three clutches being usual, though sometimes a fourth brood is attempted with the chicks still in the nest well into August.
Behaviour traits of Blackbirds
Blackbirds are largely solitary in their behaviour and rarely interact with others of the same species – except of course for breeding. The male bird establishes a territory in its first winter, and although it will stray from this to feed – and often very long distances in search of food in the winter months – it will always return to the same territory to breed throughout its life. The strong territorial instinct and intolerance of others from the same species (even outside territories) when feeding is central to Blackbird behaviour, and indeed it can especially be observed in gardens in the winter months when multiple Blackbirds appear in almost continual conflict with each other.
Video footage of Blackbirds
Blackbird history and population trends
Having declined substantially during the 1970s and through to the mid-1990s, the species has since bounced back and continues to do well. Indeed, its status has moved from amber to green.