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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Blackbird

It may not immediately be clear why the name "Blackbird", first recorded in 1486, was applied to this species, but not to one of the various other common black English birds, such as the Raven, Rook or Jackdaw. However, in Old English, and in modern English up to about the 18th century, "bird" was used only for smaller or young birds, and larger ones such as crows were called "fowl". At that time, the Blackbird was therefore the only widespread and conspicuous "black bird" in the British Isles.

The Common Blackbird is 23.5 to 29 centimetres (9.25 to 11.4 in) in length, has a long tail, and weighs 80–125 grammes (2.8 to 4.4 oz).

The male common blackbird is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill. The adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage.

The Common Blackbird breeds in temperate Eurasia, North Africa, the Canary Islands, and South Asia. It was introduced to Australia at Melbourne in the 1850s, but has expanded from its initial foothold in Melbourne and Adelaide to occur throughout south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands.

The Common Blackbird has an extensive range, estimated at 10 million square kilometres (3.8 million square miles), and a large population, including an estimated 79 to 160 million individuals in Europe alone.

The male Common Blackbird defends its breeding territory, chasing away other males or utilising a "bow and run" threat display. This consists of a short run, the head first being raised and then bowed with the tail dipped simultaneously. If a fight between male Blackbirds does occur, it is usually short and the intruder is soon chased away.

The male Common Blackbird attracts the female with a courtship display which consists of oblique runs combined with head-bowing movements, an open beak, and a "strangled" low song. The female remains motionless until she raises her head and tail to permit copulation. This species is monogamous, and the established pair will usually stay together as long as they both survive.


Blackbirds lay between three and six eggs. They each take 11-17 days to hatch.

A Common Blackbird has an average life expectancy of 2.4 years, and, based on data from bird ringing, the oldest recorded age is 21 years and 10 months.

The Common Blackbird is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, seeds and berries. It feeds mainly on the ground, running and hopping with a start-stop-start progress. It pulls earthworms from the soil, usually finding them by sight, but sometimes by hearing, and roots through leaf litter for other invertebrates. Small vertebrates such as frogs, tadpoles and lizards are occasionally hunted. This species will also perch in bushes to take berries and collect caterpillars and other active insects.

As with other passerine birds, parasites are common. 88% of Common Blackbirds were found to have intestinal parasites, most frequently Isospora and Capillaria species.


Blackbirds can be found breeding in every European country except Iceland. 

The blackbird is the most common breeding bird in Britain, with about six million pairs.

The Common Blackbird is the national bird of Sweden, which has a breeding population of 1–2 million pairs.

Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles song "Blackbird" about the civil rights struggle for blacks after reading about race riots in the US. He penned it in his kitchen in Scotland not long after Little Rock, when the federal courts forced the racial desegregation of the Arkansas capital's school system. McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008: "We were totally immersed in the whole saga which was unfolding. So I got the idea of using a blackbird as a symbol for a black person. It wasn't necessarily a black 'bird', but it works that way, as much as then you called girls 'birds'; the Everlys had had Bird Dog, so the word 'bird' was around. 'Take these broken wings' was very much in my mind, but it wasn't exactly an ornithological ditty; it was purposely symbolic."

Sourced Daily Express, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Blackbird

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