The European Blackbird (Turdus merula) is a common sight in any garden. Also called the Common Blackbird or Eurasian Blackbird, it is one of the most numerous breeding species in the British Isles, with close to 6 million pairs.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
The European blackbird thrives all over the UK (except the Scottish Highlands), Europe, Asia and North Africa, and has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. Its preferred habitats include woodland, parks, gardens and fields.
The male is extremely easy to recognise, with its all black plumage and bright orange-yellow eye ring and bill (although the bill becomes a little duller near the end of Summer). The female is brown all over and may show some dark spotting on her pale brown breast, her bill is also duller and darker. The juveniles are similar to females, but their breasts exhibit pale spots. The European Blackbird is part of the Thrush family and reaches a length of 24 - 29cm.
DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION
Both birds can be very territorial, the male for mating rights and the female for nesting rights. Being monogamous, a pair generally stay together for life. A normal mating will yield about 3 - 5 eggs (greenish-blue with brown speckles), and hatch after an incubation of around 12 - 14 days.
OTHER NOTABLE FACTS
European Blackbirds are keen worm hunters, but will also eat insects, berries and seeds. There are many subspecies that have been suggested, but generally 7 are accepted. These include T. m. merula (the UK form), T. m. azorensis, T. m. cabrerae, T. m. mauretanicus, T. m. aterrimus, T. m. syriacus and T. m. intermedius.
With such numerous numbers, the European blackbird is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern.