Since ancient times, a mystical, not entirely good reputation has been attached to the blackbird. Many people still associate this bird with something bad, negative. It is believed that if a blackbird flies to the house or sits on the window, then trouble will surely happen in the family. However, these are just myths that have no basis in themselves. In fact, the blackbird is a very beautiful, intelligent and very smart animal. He shouldn't be afraid. It is better to get acquainted with the habits, lifestyle and features of the thrush closer!
Origin of the species and description
Blackbird can be called one of the largest thrushes. This bird can reach a length of twenty-six centimeters, and its weight ranges from eighty to one hundred and twenty-five grams. It is easy to recognize this feathered one. Most of the males are painted in a very bright black color, without ebb, so blackbirds are rarely confused with crows. Young thrushes and females have brown plumage.
Very interesting is the fact that among blackbirds there are albinos. They stand out from the rest of the birds. Albino thrushes have recently begun to actively increase their presence in cities. This had a positive effect on the size of their population. If in the wild such birds are of interest only to hunters, then in urban conditions they attract individuals of the opposite sex.
Interesting fact: Few people know that the blackbird is an excellent singer . But he sings only at certain times of the day – at sunrise and sunset. His voice, melodies are very reminiscent of an elegant flute playing.
Blackbirds are a type of thrush bird. They are part of the thrush family, a large order of passeriformes. Today, there are many different subspecies of these birds.
The most common can be distinguished:
- m. Merula Linnaeus. This subspecies is very widely represented in Europe, it was also specially brought to New Zealand, Australia. Such birds are distinguished by a very thin beak, a bright rusty color in the chest area;
- m. Intermedia. It is found on the territory of Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China. Birds have dark black feathers, massive beak, larger dimensions than other subspecies;
- m. mauretanicus Hartert. These blackbirds are found only in China.
Interesting fact: In Europe, blackbirds are more friendly. They associate these birds with Saint Kevin, who is famous for his kind heart. If such thrushes settle close to home, then Europeans consider this a very auspicious sign.
Appearance and features
The blackbird has characteristic external features that distinguish it from other members of the thrush family:
- relatively large build. The weight of the feathered one is not less than eighty grams, and the length reaches twenty-six centimeters;
- strong, large wings. The average wing length is eleven centimeters, and the wingspan is at least thirty-five centimeters. The wings are very strong, which makes it possible for blackbirds to easily cover long distances through the air. The plumage of the wings is slightly rounded at the tip, the feathers are rather short;
- good eyesight. The eyes of thrushes are located on the sides of the head, they have excellent vision. However, in order to find food, birds have to constantly bow their heads to one or the other side;
- a short, strong beak. The beak of this species of thrush is usually colored gray or yellow. The nostrils are open, there is discreet plumage around the beak. Such plumage is characteristic of very many members of their family;
- the color of the classic subspecies of thrushes is black and gray. Males are black, females are grey. However, there are other subspecies that are distinguished by a brighter color of feathers. Blackbirds are white, yellowish, speckled;
- short legs. There are fused horny plates on the limbs. Despite its small size, the feathered legs are very strong and tenacious;
- pleasant, melodic voice. At dawn and dusk, these birds sing beautiful melodies. Their voice is like a flute. The cry of a bird is not very pleasant. It sounds like dry crackling.
Fun fact: The blackbird is an animal with a very strong immune system. Being in the wild, such birds almost never get sick. Only when kept at home can a bird have various problems.
Where does the blackbird live?
Drozdovye are a fairly large and widespread family. Its representatives inhabit both the eastern and western hemispheres. Specific places of settlement of birds are associated with their species. Each type of thrush has its own preferences. However, most of these birds, when choosing a place, are guided by one criterion – the presence of a sufficient amount of food. If the area has a lot of berry, fruit trees, then it is ideal for living.
The blackbird is no exception. This bird chooses territories rich in food for itself. Some representatives of this species of birds lead a nomadic lifestyle, moving to warmer regions in winter, others are sedentary. The largest populations of blackbirds are found on the territory of Russia, Ukraine, and Europe. Birds live even in the northern regions of these territories.
Some populations of blackbirds are found in northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Asia Minor. Animals were artificially introduced to New Zealand and Australia. However, they perfectly adapted to the climatic conditions of these countries, quickly increased their presence there.
Previously, blackbirds preferred to settle exclusively in forests. For life, they chose mixed, coniferous, deciduous forests with moist soil. Also, nests were found in abandoned parks, overgrown large gardens, located away from human settlements. However, for the last eighty years, blackbirds have densely populated villages, towns and even large cities.
What does a blackbird eat?
Blackbirds can safely be called omnivorous birds. This helps them survive in the winter, when worms and various insects cannot be found in nature. The most favorite delicacy of such birds are earthworms. In summer, spring and autumn, birds spend a huge amount on the ground, looking for worms. When hunting for worms, thrushes show due caution. They are constantly looking around, moving in jumps. In case of danger, the blackbird instantly takes off into the air and leaves an unsafe place.
Worms are the basis of the diet for young blackbirds. Parents feed their chicks with them. Such a protein diet helps the young to quickly gain the necessary weight, get stronger. In search of food on the ground, thrushes are hardly noticeable, so they rarely become victims of predator attacks. Birds search for worms with their beak, but scientists are sure that they also use their keen hearing when searching.
In addition to worms, the diet of these animals also includes other food:
- frogs, lizards, insects, snails, caterpillars. This food is rich in proteins. Protein helps the animal to be strong, to spend a lot of time in flight. Such food especially predominates in the diet during the mating season;
- berries, fruits. In summer, blackbirds are not averse to eating plant foods. Birds eat only ripe fruits and berries;
- seeds. When there are no worms or berries, birds can eat the seeds of various plants, trees.
Interesting fact: The blackbird may not drink water at all. The animal receives the entire supply of the necessary liquid with food. In times of severe drought, these birds try to eat more caterpillars, tadpoles, green aphids. Such food contains a lot of liquid.
Character and lifestyle features
The history of the existence of blackbirds goes back hundreds of years. A lot of remains, traces of such animals were found between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Many scientists explain the bright black coloring of thrushes precisely by the location of ancient birds. Black color perfectly accumulates heat at high altitude among snowdrifts. Only over time, the habitat of these animals began to change. First to forests, and then to cities.
These birds spend most of their lives in gardens, forests and thickets. They choose places with damp, black earth. There are a lot of earthworms in such soil, and against its background, thrushes are almost invisible to others. In the city, thrushes can often be found in parks, near houses, feeders. They spend a lot of time with other birds.
The way of life of blackbirds is mainly nomadic. When it starts to get colder, these birds move to warmer countries and regions. However, there are also settled flocks. Few of their members survive. Birds often die due to too harsh climate, lack of food. But, having endured a difficult winter, thrushes begin to multiply very actively. Against the background of stress, they can lay about four clutches in one season.
The nature of blackbirds cannot be called friendly. However, idle these birds do not show aggression. They can attack only when protecting their home, food, female or offspring. Quite often, thrushes were domesticated. The process of domesticating them is difficult, but quite real.
Social structure and reproduction
The nesting season for rooks falls in February. At this time, migratory birds return home, and settled birds begin to show aggression towards strangers, fiercely defending the boundaries of their possessions. Rooks are looking for a couple for themselves for life, rarely when they change partners. The only exception is the death of an animal. Migratory birds often return to their last year's nests. The young start building a new nest.
Outwardly, the finished blackbird nest resembles a large cup. It consists of two layers: internal, external. The outer layer of birds is built from branches, leaves, moss. The inner layer consists of tree dust, clay. Nests are usually small. They reach nine centimeters in height and twenty centimeters in diameter. Blackbirds nest at high altitudes. Usually it is about eight meters. These birds build houses on lindens, birches, spruces, pines. It is not uncommon to find a nest on the ground or among tree roots.
Fun fact: Modern blackbirds are quite bold. Those individuals that live in cities are not afraid to place their nests in close proximity to humans. Sometimes they build them right on the balconies or flower beds.
When the nest is ready to be occupied, the female thrush immediately lays her eggs. In one clutch there can be up to six eggs, but history knows cases of more numerous offspring. Eggs reach three centimeters in length. After hatching, the chicks are fully supported by their parents for some time. Adult individuals feed their offspring with earthworms. By June, the young start to leave the parental home.
Natural enemies of blackbirds
Black thrushes are very brave birds, always ready to rush to defend their territory, chicks or female. They know how to defend themselves from an attacker with the help of wings, beak. They literally attack a potential enemy, which scares off the offender. In most cases, the attacker, after such a violent defensive reaction, hastily leaves the place where the blackbird lives.
If danger directly threatens the nest, then thrushes are able to divert the attention of predators to themselves. They pretend to be sick, lure the attacker away from their offspring. Who most often attacks blackbirds and their nests?
Several of the most dangerous natural enemies can be identified:
- crows and woodpeckers. Crows are larger than thrushes, they steal eggs insolently. Woodpeckers, on the other hand, destroy nests when their parents are not around;
- owls, hawks, owls. These predatory birds can attack not only the nest, but also the adult. They deftly cope with small thrushes;
- squirrels. These cute, fluffy animals also often attack the homes of thrushes, stealing their future offspring. However, squirrels often manage to drive away parents without much loss;
- foxes, martens. These predators prey on adults or young. They try to catch them while feeding, when the birds are busy looking for earthworms on the ground.
Species population and status
Blackbirds can be called one of the most numerous species of the family. These are hardy, strong, prolific birds. They cannot be called endangered, but this species cannot boast of the stability of its population. The number of birds in individual territories has always fluctuated. The size of their population depends on several factors: the availability of resources for life, climatic conditions. A lot of these animals die, staying for the winter in cold regions. However, many thrushes die during long flights for a variety of reasons.
Also, the general environmental conditions on earth affect the decline in the blackbird population. Massive deforestation, polluted soil, reduced number of orchards with berries and fruits – all this deprives animals of homes and food for survival. However, the rate of decline in the population of thrushes cannot be called frightening. These birds are quite prolific and in extreme conditions give numerous offspring. Thanks to this, today blackbirds have been given a conservation status of “Least Concern”.
Interesting fact: The lifespan of a blackbird in nature is no more than four years. However, the potential of animals is much greater. So, when kept in a zoo or at home, a bird can live for seven years.
The blackbird is a mystical, mysterious feathered bird with a bright appearance. These are smart, quick-witted and courageous birds that inhabit almost all of Europe and Asia. Thrushes of this species are quite large in size, high fecundity. Their population today is stable, in some areas blackbirds live in huge colonies.