Wildlife In Focus | Blackbird

David Coultham

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This article is everything you need to know about the Blackbird (Turdus merula). The Blackbird is amongst the most common birds in the British Isles and is a frequent garden visitor famed for its singing and love of the sunshine.

According to folktales, the Blackbird has evil and supernatural powers, and similarly to the Crow forbodes ill fortune. It’s a good job most people don’t believe this sort of thing anymore! You may also have heard the nursery rhyme of four and twenty blackbirds being baked in a pie, and one flying out when the pie was cut and pecking off the king’s nose. If nothing else, this does demonstrate that Blackbirds have been resident in the U.K. for a long time, with records supporting observations back in Saxon times.

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Video | Everything You Need To Know About The Blackbird

Conservation Status

The Blackbird has adapted very well to the loss of natural habitat and is now most frequently seen in urban rather than rural environments.

Conservation Status

Conservation Status


The Blackbird is a ground forager and bounces around the ground turning over leaves and pushing its beak into the soil in search of insects, earthworms, caterpillars, as well as fruit and berries. They will also frequently visit bird tables.


Their natural habitat is deciduous woodland, they can also be found in scrub, farmland, and the aforementioned urban environments. They can be found across the U.K. except on higher ground.

Note that this map is for a rough illustration of animal distribution across the UK1, whereby light green indicates established populations.


While the adult male Blackbird is entirely black as its name suggests, the female is brown. Juveniles are also brown but with flashes of copper. The male has a bright yellow beak and matching eyering, whereas the female beak is more brown.

Blackbird Song:

usanne Kuijpers, xeno-canto.org

Depending on the weather, they can start breeding as early as March through to July. They nest close to the ground and the female takes responsibility for building the nest from twigs and grass; favoring bushes or small trees as the location. They can have up to 3 broods each year, each with up to 5 eggs. The female also takes responsibility for incubating the eggs which hatch after two weeks and are ready to fledge after another 14 to 16 days.

Their life expectancy is typically three years, albeit they have been known to live much longer, with the oldest recorded being 15 years! It is estimated that there are over 10 million blackbirds in the British Isles alone.


Adults weigh up to 122g with a wing length of up to 138mm.2


They are preyed upon by sparrowhawks and goshawks, as well as being susceptible to predation by mammals such as foxes and in particular domestic cats.


One of the easiest birds to spot in the U.K. Especially if you live in a suburban environment, where you will likely see them in your garden looking for food. Also, listen out for them in deciduous woodland environments.


  1. Population data based on BTO assessment
  2. Featherbase

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