Be Your Own Birder

Discover the Eurasian Blackbird

The name “blackbird” can mean different things to different birders, but one of the most widespread blackbird species in the world is exactly what its name implies – a solidly black bird. There is far more to the Eurasian blackbird than its plumage, however, and this is a fascinating bird to discover.

Eurasian Blackbird - Photo by Le poidesans
Eurasian Blackbird – Photo by Le poidesans

Eurasian Blackbird Fun Facts

  • The Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula), is also widely known as the common blackbird or just blackbird. The names European blackbird, Levant blackbird, Madeiran blackbird, and Azores blackbird refer to specific subspecies of the Eurasian blackbird. Ouzel is another, much older name for this species, and is still occasionally found in poetry. Colly bird is another nickname for these birds, and is referenced in the 12 Days of Christmas carol. These blackbirds are called manu pango in New Zealand.
  • These birds belong to the Turdidae bird family and are closely related to different thrushes, bluebirds, and solitaires, including the more familiar fieldfare and American robin.
  • While widespread throughout Europe from Iceland to North Africa and east to Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Iran, these birds have also been introduced to southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, where they are thriving.
  • These birds have plain, relatively unmarked black or brown-black plumage, but nothing is plain about their melodious song, which includes a wide range of warbles, whistles, chirps, rattles, squeaks, and other sounds in their repertoire. These birds will sing throughout the year and are a prominent member of the dawn chorus. Some subspecies even mimic other birds, cell phones, or car alarms in their songs.
  • Like all thrushes, Eurasian blackbirds are omnivorous and eat a wide range of both plant and animal foods, including berries, small fruits, insects, earthworms, snails, and slugs. At feeders, they will often take fruit and suet, as well as sampling birdseed.
  • Eurasian blackbirds are monogamous and believed to mate for life. Courtship includes the male making bowing and running displays and low songs for the female.
  • The Eurasian blackbird is the national bird of Sweden. It has also been honored in different nations and cultures in different ways, including being part of songs and poems, as well as featured on stamps from Ireland, Belgium, and Great Britain.
Eurasian Blackbird in Autumn - Photo by Antje Schultner
Eurasian Blackbird in Autumn – Photo by Antje Schultner

Adding the Eurasian Blackbird to Your Life List

These are common and conspicuous birds within their range and are quite easy to see, but traveling birders should be aware that some populations do migrate and may not be found in different seasons. Eurasian blackbirds prefer deciduous trees and shrubby habitat, especially where small fruits or berries are abundant. They are frequently found both in wooded, natural habitats as well as in urban and suburban parks and gardens. These birds may not migrate at all in mild winters if food remains abundant. Planting grapes, berries, and other small fruits in the yard can help attract these blackbirds and encourage them to become regular guests.

Learn More About the Eurasian Blackbird

There are many resources available to learn even more about this widespread bird, including these top options…

Female Eurasian Blackbird - Photo by hedera.baltica
Female Eurasian Blackbird – Photo by hedera.baltica

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