Blackbirds are a very common bird species that belong to the family of true trush. Experts often referred to them as Eurasian blackbirds as a way of separating them from New World blackbirds. The animal is present in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Russia.
A lot of people wonder what do blackbirds eat. In this article, we will talk about its dietary habits and other interesting characteristics.
Blackbirds Habits and biology
There are lots of different subspecies of this animal. Depending on where they live, they might be migratory, partially migratory, or residential.
The first blackbirds inhabited Europe, and the whole species got its name after fully black males. One of the things that separate this bird from similar species is its beautiful song. Unlike males, females and offspring have dark brown feathers.
The animal inhabits woods and bushy areas. They utilize mud for building nests and tend to be very territorial. Blackbirds have no problem threatening all other species that come into their breeding ground, even if they are much larger than them. Still, when migrating, they will couple with other birds.
Like most other bird species, blackbirds create relationships for life. A pair of animals will return to the same general area every year and stay there for as long as possible. Most of them will migrate in winter except for urban males that have no trouble finding food in cities.
These are some of the blackbird’s common habits:
- The species will have two to three broods during the breeding season (from March to July). In some cases, they might have up to four, but this is a rare occurrence. The number is usually higher or lower depending on weather conditions.
- A female will lay three to five eggs. When the offspring hatches, the male will catch caterpillars or earthworms. On the other hand, the female will slowly prepare the nest for the upcoming brood.
- Although the species sticks to its territory and protects it fiercely, they don’t necessarily do so because of the abundance of food. Instead, they might fly long distances to find prey.
- Blackbirds’ breeding grounds are rarely optimal in terms of food. Instead, they create nests in an environment that is most suitable for offspring’s survival. Then, once they give birth to the last brood, the parents relocate to a different territory searching for a better food source.
What do blackbirds eat in the wild?
These birds are omnivorous species. They eat various types of food, primarily focusing on insects, grains, and berries. During spring and summer, they will mainly focus on invertebrates and insects. Then, as the winter comes along, they will slowly switch to seeds and berries.
Although the animal can hunt, it is much more likely to forage. Blackbirds hop around the ground looking for worms and berries. If necessary, they can use their strong beak to poke them out from soft soil.
Like some other animals from this family, blackbirds are very resourceful. They ruffle fallen leaves and even utilize small branches as tools. In addition, the animal has very strong senses of smell and sight, allowing them to find snails, worms, and spiders in the vicinity. Furthermore, they can even spot small things such as a snail’s trail or spider web, indicating that the prey is nearby.
There are the animals and plants that the species commonly eats:
- Various insects
- Various fruit
The offspring also affects the bird’s choice of food. Young ones require a lot of protein, so the bird focuses on insects and other protein sources during spring and summer. Females also need additional food during this period. When the winter comes around, they will require more vitamins and other nutrients from plants.
Some people like to attract blackbirds to their gardens. They would fill bird feeders with mealworms, uncooked oats, and fat balls. However, you need to be very careful as there are many things that the animal cannot eat. For example, they have trouble digesting seed mixtures with lentils, peas, and beans. These are especially troublesome for small birds.
Although the species utilizes its beak for foraging, it isn’t as strong as in some other species. But they might use feet to go through dirt and to catch insects.
14 Facts about blackbirds
Blackbirds might seem like any other bird species, but they have lots of interesting characteristics. Here are some fun facts about the animal:
- According to the Wildlife and Countryside Act from 1981, Blackbirds are completely protected in the US. The government enacted this law due to a rapid drop in species’ number, which occurred during the 1970s. During this decade, their population was reduced by one-third. According to this act, a person cannot damage, destroy, or steal their eggs. Furthermore, the government implores gardeners to avoid volatile chemicals that might harm the species.
- While the US blackbird population has experienced fluctuations over the years, their numbers are rather healthy in Europe. According to the latest data, there are somewhere between 38 to 55 million blackbird couples on the continent. Furthermore, they are the most common bird species in the UK, with an approximate population of 6 million.
- The species is highly dependent on humans and the urban environment. The majority of species’ nests can be found in cities. Furthermore, during the winter, some birds will not migrate from urban areas as they can find the necessary food. At the same time, the majority of birds die from cars and cats.
- Experts categorize blackbirds as sexually dimorphic birds. In other words, female feathers are completely different from male feathers, and a lot of people make the mistake of thinking they are different species.
- Most birds will not sing during the first year of their life. Instead, they usually start singing during March next year. An interesting thing about the animal is that it likes to sing after the rain, and it will do so throughout the summer. However, as July comes around, they are less and less likely to sing.
- One of the reasons why the animal rarely moves is because it is attached to a certain area. Most of them will spend their whole lives in close proximity to where they hatched. They are reluctant to migrate, and when they do, they often do so with other birds.
- A couple of birds needs somewhere between 10 to 15 days to build a nest. Females do the majority of the work. Like almost all other bird species, the female will take care of the eggs and sit on them. Meanwhile, the male will forage food. Depending on the region, blackbirds will have different nesting schedules. For example, Scottish animals will start building nests two weeks after English ones.
- The species has a beautiful courtship ritual. The male will run around the female during the dance, bowing its head, opening its beak, and signing a low-pitch song. Meanwhile, the female will remain in place, and if she likes the male, she will raise her tail and head.
- Like many other bird species, blackbirds mate for life. In recent years, scientists have further analyzed separation rates. According to them, 20% of couples will not stay together. The main reason for this is low birth rates. While this is a monogamous species, there is 17% additional pair paternity.
- Over time, the species was introduced to various parts of the world. Originally from Europe, they’ve spread to North America and Australia. And while the animal adapted to certain environments, such as New Zealand, it had trouble in other regions. For example, the attempts to bring blackbirds to Oregon and New York failed.
- Blackbirds do not live very long. An average individual will reach just below four years of age. However, there was one instance where a blackbird reached 20 years.
- When breeding, the animal is not particularly social. This changes during migration when blackbirds group up with other bird species. When migrating, they will make rapid wing movement coupled with midflight diving. The flying method they use when migrating is completely different from their normal flying routine. It involves much more dipping than usual.
- Blackbirds also bow when attacking other blackbirds. When defending its territory, the animal will dip its head and raise its tail, after which it will charge towards the intruder. The clashes between blackbirds are usually short, and in most situations, the intruder will quickly leave after receiving the threat.
- Females are also prone to violence. Unlike males, they usually fight for good breeding spots. While these fights are less common, they tend to be more aggressive and likely to result in severe wounds.
Blackbirds are a widespread species. They are known for their beautiful and unique song. Like other birds, they mate for life and tend to inhabit the same area throughout their lives.
The animal is very resourceful when hunting. It combs the ground, searching for small insects, grains, and fruits. They utilize their beak and feet to turn rocks and leaves as they’re looking for worms.