Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)

(29 cm.) Entirely black plumage; yellow bill and eye ring

The Eurasian Blackbird, often referred to as the Common Blackbird is a very common member of the thrush family, “turdidae”. Like other many other birds in this family, the Eurasian Blackbird is a talented singer that serenades females and threatens other males with its melodious singing during the spring and summer.

Despite bearing the name, “blackbird,” it should be noted that this bird is a true thrush and is not related to members of the American blackbird family, “icteridae.” As one of the few completely black species of songbirds in Europe and Asia, the bird’s English name is most reasonable. The male has uniformly black plumage with a striking yellow eye-ring and yellow bill. The female is a less attractive mix of black and brown, but still possesses the yellow bill, which is this species diagnostic feature.

The Eurasian Blackbird is found throughout south and central China as far north as Shandong province. It is not a migratory species and can be found year-round in most part of its range. In the northern part of its range, some birds may wander south during winter to seek out better conditions. It is generally a hardy species, however.

This bird is a common sight in city parks and gardens or any place that offers it its preferred foods, earthworms, insects, and other small invertebrates. It is a versatile omnivore that also enjoys berries and fruits.

During the summer breeding season the male Eurasian Blackbird will attract a mate with a strange courtship display of running and head-bobbing. After mating, the couple will build a cup-shaped nest made of mud, grass and other vegetation. The female lays 3-5 eggs and incubates them herself for about two weeks. Due to the accessible position of Eurasian Blackbird nests, predators often take eggs and chicks. Despite this, this species continues to maintain a large population, and this bird continues to be regular attraction in city parks in all major Chinese cities from Qingdao in the north all the way down the East Coast of China.
Photo by Brian Westland

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