The adult male of the common blackbird, which is found throughout most of Europe, is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill and has a rich, melodious song; the adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage.
Male European blackbirds are fully black in color while the females are typically brown. The males have bright yellow or orange beaks while the female beak is brown to dark brown. The eye in the males is outlined with a bright yellow eye ring. The European blackbird weighs, on average, 102.06 grams. The blackbird is approximately 25 centimeters in length with a wingspan range between 34-38 centimeters. The hatchlings are born without feathers.
The longest known lifespan of the European blackbird in the wild is 21.8 years but the average lifespan is 2.4 years. It is not raised in captivity.
Distribution and Habitat
The European blackbird (Turdus merula) is located primarily throughout the eastern hemisphere in the Palearctic region. It is found throughout Europe but is also located as far west as the east coast of China and as far north as the northern coast of Sweden, depending on the season. It is also found along the northern tip of Africa and along the entire coastline of Iceland. The bird was also introduced to the Australian region along the southeastern tip of Australia and New Zealand.
During the breeding season, this bird is found primarily as far east as Poland, as far north as Sweden, and as far west as Yekaterinburg, Russia. It is also found in the southeastern tip of China and southern India during the breeding season. During the non-breeding season, it is primarily found in Europe but can also be found as far east as the western portion of China.
With increasing urbanization, migration has become less common. Many will remain in those areas throughout the spring and summer season to reproduce. There is a heavier concentration of European blackbirds found in southern and central Europe, compared to the northern and eastern populations in Europe. Both sexes are territorial on the breeding grounds, with distinctive threat displays, but are more gregarious during migration and in wintering areas. Pairs stay in their territory throughout the year where the climate is sufficiently temperate.
he European blackbird is most often found in urban areas including gardens, parks, and town shrubberies. It can also be found in farmlands with hedges and woodland areas. The concentration of the birds increases in urban areas, compared to rural areas. The increased population density is due to the greater abundance of food produced by humans.
In Bulgaria – almost everywhere the common blackbird can find food and suitable conditions for nesting and breeding. From fields, vineyards, cereals, parks, gardens and more. In Bulgaria, the blackbird is a permanent bird. In winter, the birds from the higher mountainous parts descend into the lowlands and plains and adhere to the areas of the settlements. In the summer they climb over 2000 m.
The blackbird is a frugivore and granivore. It commonly eats larger, high-energy fruits, such as the common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). It is known to consume species of fruits with seeds that are easily digestible with a low concentration of seeds. This bird also consumes sloe (Prunus spinose), ivy (Hedera helix), elder fruits (Sambucus nigra), bramble (Rubus fructicosa), and dogrose (Rosa canina).
The European blackbird also eats insects including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, plus snails, spiders, and earthworms. Due to its close proximity to urbanized areas, it can be assumed that the bird also consumes manmade food.
This species breeds in woods and gardens, building a neat, cup-shaped nest, bound together with mud. The European blackbird is socially monogamous throughout its lifetime. However, some male blackbirds may attempt to pursue a female that already has a mate. The blackbird typically begins mating at the age of one year.
Once a male blackbird has claimed a territory, he will defend it from competitors by running, headfirst, directly at any birds that attempts to enter. Females may also get defensive and competitive in similar ways when searching for locations to nest.
Males use a complex display when attracting females to mate. They have their beak open followed by a series of sprints and head-bows, along with a stifled song. If the female accepts this display, she will lift both her head and tail simultaneously, signaling to the male that she is ready to mate.
The coloration of beak on the male blackbird is a quality used to attract a mate. Females are typically more attracted to orange beaks because it suggests the male has favorable foraging abilities, which would be beneficial in providing for hatchlings. The coloration comes from the type and amount of carotenoids the male receives from its diet.
The nests can be found approximately 6 meters above the ground in either trees or bushes. The weather can have an influence on when the bird chooses to start breeding, but the blackbird typically breeds between March and June. On average, the European blackbird creates 2 to 6 nests per year. Each nest contains an average of 3 eggs, and total number of eggs can be 24 per year.
Hatching occurs after approximately 13 days of incubation. The European blackbirds weigh approximately 6 grams at hatching. Typically, in about 8 days the hatchlings will begin to develop feathers in the primary and secondary areas of the wing. If a hatchling is underweight, possibly due to lack of available food, it could take an extra day or two to develop feathers.
Most birds, including the blackbird, are altricial and require parental care for survival after hatching. Nests are usually built by the female. Both the male and female blackbird contribute to providing food, such as earthworms, for the hatchlings, however, the female is the only sex that incubates the eggs.
The European blackbird is listed as a species of “Least Concern” on IUCN Red List.