A short guide to the Common Garden Blackbird
As you step outside into the fresh air you can usually here the fluty call of the Blackbird (Turdus Merula), one of the most common wild birds to be seen in a garden within the UK. It can stand between 24 and 25cm and weigh in at between 80 and 125g. The male bird is easily identified by its solid black plumage and egg yellow bill and eye ring. The female can be a little harder to identify as it has a dark brown plumage with lighter speckles on the underside (very similar to the thrush) The bill of the female bird is yellow. Juveniles are of reddish brown in colour with the paler spotting similar to the adult female. The male juvenile bird can take more than a year to get his full black plumage and orange yellow bill. During their first winter, the juveniles can sometimes be seen feeding amongst redwings.
The Blackbird has a fairly straightforward diet of insects and earthworms. Although their main diet is of insects and earthworms, they will occasionally eat tadpoles, newts and small fish. In the autumn cotoneaster berries and windfall fruit such as apples form a strong part of their diet. If a good supply of windfall fruit is found it is not uncommon for the Blackbird to defend his find aggressively. Unlike the Song Thrush the Blackbird will very rarely eat a snail, although there are increased reports of the Blackbird stealing snails from Song Thrush’s that have already cracked the shell open.
As with most wild birds the Blackbird will feed from a ground feeder or garden bird table taking sultanas, raisins and other kitchen scraps as well as the more normal wild bird seed that is available from most supermarkets and pet shops. Having said that it is important that you get the right kind of bird feeding station for your garden if you have made the decision to start feeding wild birds and encouraging them into your garden.
If you are lucky, or unlucky enough, depending on how you look at it, to have a squirrel within your locality it would be advisable to find yourself a squirrel proof bird feeder as these animals are adapt at emptying wild bird feeders quickly and effortlessly leaving none for the wild birds. Once you have chosen the best bird feeding station for your garden you can then stock it with the best wild bird seed you can find, but remember don’t get to big a bag to start with as not all birds like the same wild bird feed. This accomplished you can now sit in the comfort of your own home and watch a variety of wild birds feed as well as your Blackbirds and hopefully maybe one will even nest in your garden! As well as feed it is also important that your birds have fresh water available all the time so they can drink and have a bath.
Blackbirds are very much birds of opportunity when it comes to nesting and will nest pretty much anywhere they can, providing they are high enough of the ground. Although the preferred nesting site would be a nice secure hedge or tree, the Blackbird will very often nest in a back garden using trellis on walls and plant pots. Obviously you can always put a garden bird box up on your house wall or even on a high fence to encourage your local birds to nest.
There are many ways in which you can watch your new-feathered friends, most commonly the binoculars. However, technology has now given us the opportunity to watch birds as they feed by using bird table cameras, these attach to your feeding station to enable you to watch closely as your birds feed, and we can also watch them while they sit on a nest with a bird camera box, which is a simple nesting box with a camera inside so that you can watch the miracle of nature closely.
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