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  1. 92 Common Blackbird
  2. 089_common_blackbird_turdus_merula_-_female_-_credit_to_arto_hakola_scale Female by Arto Hakola

Common Blackbird

Turdus merula

Appearance

  • Colour: the adult male is black with a deep-orange to yellow beak, a narrow orange to yellow ring around its eye, and dark legs. The female is grey-brown, with some streaks or mottling, and its back is darker than its belly. The female also has a paler chin than the male, a dull yellow-brown beak, dark legs, and the ring around her eye is less bright. Young birds are also brown but with lighter underparts and a dark grey or black beak.
  • Size: 25 to 28 cm (from head to tail). 

Behaviour

  • Call: a repeated, high-pitched “tsee” or “chook”, and a mellow, melodious, warbling song. It has a harsh, almost screeching chatter of alarm when in flight. 
  • Diet: a range of invertebrates including insects, earthworms, snails and spiders, as well as a range of seeds and fruit.
  • Flight: fast, with rapid wing beats. It darts swiftly to and from its nest to avoid predators. It usually forages on the ground, probing and scratching in leaf litter, soil and lawns. It hops more than it runs when on the ground.
  • Breeding: during spring and summer when the male sings from a vantage point in the early morning. It builds a cup-shaped nest of dried grass, bound with mud and lined with fine grasses. The nest is usually hidden from predators in a tree, shrub or low bush, but is sometimes found in a tree hollow. The female lays three to five eggs, which are incubated for 14 days. Young birds leave the nest when they are 14 days old.

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Nesting (and, if possible: bird in nest, bird on eggs, bird with chicks, bird feeding begging chicks). 

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

  • From August through to the end of February
  • Breeding occurs from September to January
  • Young birds are seen from mid-September to late February 

Where To Look

  • From south-east Queensland in the north, to Tasmania in the south (including the Bass Strait Islands), both on the coast and inland.
  • In urban, forest and woodland habitats, including orchards, vineyards, gardens, parks and along roadsides.
  • Look in dense shrubs, low bushes or trees for nests. Also keep a lookout in tree hollows.
  • Common Blackbirds are often seen in orchards, vineyards, gardens, parks and along roadsides. 

Common Blackbird Occurrence Map ALA

References

Schodde, R and Tideman, SC (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.

Morcombe, M 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing. 

Links

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  1. What Else?

    • Common Starling: is 4 to 5cm smaller and is a shinier black in summer, with whitish feather tips and a black bill in winter. The male doesn’t have the orange to yellow ring around its eye.
    • Another black bird: won’t have the distinctive orange to yellow eye ring. 
  1. Did You Know?

    The Common Blackbird was introduced from Europe to Melbourne in the 1850s – mainly for its pleasant song!

    It is considered a pest in orchards, vineyards, market gardens and backyard vegetable patches because it damages a variety of soft fruits, including figs, grapes, olives, berries and stone fruit. It has also been linked to the spread of weed species such as blackberry.

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

  1. Listen to the Call

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