Identification

Mature male blackbirds in breeding plumage (spring and summer) are black all over with a bright yellow or orange beak and a yellow ring round their eyes. Females are browner, with a hint of speckling all over their breasts. They have a pale yellow or dark beak. Juveniles are also brown and even more speckled than females, although this gradually disappears.

Size

They can range in length (from tip of beak to end of tail) from about 23-30cm (9-12in).

Distribution

Resident and common throughout the British Isles. Some birds are winter visitors from further north and east, e.g. Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Status

Blackbird populations declined for a long time from about the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, but more recent increases mean that they are not currently of conservation concern. This may possibly because of improved nesting success.

Habitat preference

Blackbirds’ natural habitat is woodland, but they have adapted to a variety of other habitats in urban and rural settings, such as farmland, parks and gardens.

Where to find them in the garden

The blackbird is one of the most commonly observed garden birds. They shelter and nest in the cover of hedges, trees, or thickets of climbers, and may also use artificial structures such as sheds and balconies.They are probably most often seen on lawns or on freshly dug earth as they look for food.

Role in the garden

Blackbirds forage for worms and grubs in the soil, but will also feed on windfall fruit or berries from shrubs, climbers and trees. Eggs and young may fall prey to magpies, crows and grey squirrels. Adults may be attacked by sparrowhawks or cats.