Skip Navigation

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

A well-loved garden bird, the blackbird is a common sight in our towns and cities.

Common name: blackbird 

Scientific name: Turdus merula

Family: Turdidae (chats and thrushes) 

Appearance

Head: the male blackbird's head is, as you would expect, black all over, except for a distinctive yellow bill and bright eye ring. Conversely the female has a brown head and a duller, yellow-brown beak. 

Wings: in the male, the wings are black, whereas the female has dark brown wings.

Body: as with the head and wings, the adult male has black plumage. The female has a dark brown body with speckled markings on the chest. The juvenile blackbird is similar in colour to the adult female with additional pale markings on the body.

Where to spot

The blackbird is common in gardens across the UK and has adapted well to suburban areas, meaning it is often possible to get quite close to the bird. It can also be seen in woods, on scrub and in arable areas but you're less likely to see one in higher upland areas and in parts of Scotland.

Feeding

The blackbird’s diet is made up of earthworms, invertebrates, such as caterpillars, as well as berries. It is also a frequent bird table visitor. 

Breeding

The blackbird is monogamous and establishes its territory at around one year old. It breeds throughout spring into midsummer and has two to three broods in a year, producing three to five eggs in each. The female builds the nest, a characteristically round structure, out of sticks and grass in a bush or small tree.

Facts

  • The expected lifespan of a blackbird is three years but they can survive into double figures.
  • They have a melodious song.
  • In folklore, a blackbird nesting near the house is seen to be a harbinger of good fortune.
  • Blackbirds can be found throughout the year in the UK but some are migrants from Europe.
  • In late summer blackbirds will moult and become elusive.  
  • On a sunny day blackbirds sometimes sunbathe.
  • Some blackbirds are white! Albinism causes some blackbirds to grow white feathers.

Join Nature’s Calendar

Help us track the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife. Let us know what's happening near you and see your sightings on the map.

Start recording