Saturday 18 June 2016

About Blackbirds - 30 Days Wild - Studious Saturday

   Blackbirds are marvellous creatures. I've always loved them, how they look, how they carry themselves, how they sound - they dominate the airways with their songs even when only one is present in the vicinity. I don't actually see many of them in the garden anymore, it's mostly sparrows and magpies, and the occasional crow who likes to fly in, pick up the fatball feeder, throw in on the floor, steal one of the aforementioned fat balls and fly off with it, leaving the murdered feeder dead upon the grass without so much as an apologetic glance. *Ahem* I have seen a pair of blackbirds a few times over the past week, though - you can tell the males from the females quite easily, as it's only the males who are black, while the females are a modest brown.
   But they're incredible birds. Above all else, I love their mimicry. Their range of songs are broad, and they can mimic the songs of other birds as well as 'artificial' sounds if they're exposed to them often enough like mobile ring tones, ice cream vans, and even human whistles. They incorporate them into their already complex songs, and of course it all varies by the individual, both how it's incorporated, what it learns, and what it prefers to utilise out of its collection.

   I was watching a pair hop about in the garden today and decided that they would be my focus for Studious Saturday. I made a sketch and read up on them - these are the most interesting facts I discovered on the common blackbird:

• The song 'Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, four-and-twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie' was supposedly a coded message used to recruit crew members for the 18th century pirate, Edward Teach/Thatch, also known as Blackbeard.

• Most English blackbirds remain near the area they hatched.

• Blackbirds are thought to be monogamous, meaning pairing for life, and are territorial.

• The male and female both gather food for chicks, making them both caring parents - but I suppose that comes with the pairing.

• If they're not caught by predators, a blackbird's natural lifespan can be 15 years.

• Blackbirds are omnivores, eating plants, insects and amphibians when they can catch them.

• They're extremely adaptable and have managed to settle over most of the world, though the only European country where there seem to be no breeding pairs is Iceland.

• Young blackbirds are keen and start singing as early as January and February, whereas older blackbirds wait until March.


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