© Simo Mikkonen

© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Simo Mikkonen, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Turdus merula

  • Name also: Common Blackbird, Eurasian Blackbird
  • Family: Thrushes – Turdidae
  • Appearance: A large dark-coloured thrush. Males have totally black plumage; females and juveniles are dark brown. May be confused with the Starling, but Blackbirds have longer tails and hop with both feet rather than walking.
  • Size: Length 23.5–29 cm, weight 80–135 g.
  • Nest: Locations highly varied. May nest on the ground or in a tree, usually less than 3 m above ground level. Nest made of dry grass and clay lined with finer grass. Resembles nest of Fieldfare, but can be distinguished by the use of plenty of moss on the outside.
  • Breeding: Lays 2–6 eggs April–May. Only females incubate, for 11–14 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 12–16 days. Breeding season long, especially in urban parks and gardens in Southern Finland, where nesting has been observed from February to November.
  • Distribution: Breeds across Southern and Central Finland in mixed and deciduous woodland. Scarce breeder further north as far as Southern Lapland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 300,000–450,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Mainly nocturnal. Flies south September–November, returning March–April. Some birds winter in Finland but most migrate to Western Europe.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, berries, seeds.
  • Calls: A chirpy call “srri”; more chattering alarm call. Song clear, melodic and mellifluous. Sings from early spring onwards, most actively around dawn and dusk.

Male Blackbirds have uniform jet black plumage and bright yellow-orange beaks. Females are mainly dark brown, with paler throats and pale speckles on their breasts. Some females may have unusually pale markings on their chests making them resemble Ring Ouzels. Juvenile birds are an uneven mottled dark brown with a rusty tinge to their plumage that remains until they moult in early autumn. Blackbirds have dark brown legs. Mature males’ beaks are yellow-orange, but during their first winter males’ beaks are still blackish brown, only later gradually becoming more yellow. Females have dark brown beaks, which become more yellowish as they mature. Blackbird’s have dark brown irises, and males have yellow eye rings.

May be confused from a distance with the slightly smaller and shorter-tailed Starling, but Blackbirds on the ground can be recognised because they hop with both feet rather than walking like Starlings.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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