December 24th   Leave a comment

If you visit the co-op and have noticed the hedge opposite is very noisy and full of house sparrows, then the explanation is both that there is a dense hedge (house sparrows love this because it offers protection from sparrowhawks) and we have a bird feeder hanging from this hedge. The sparrows empty it in the first couple of hours and a few other species pick up the bits that get tossed on to the ground as the 40-50 sparrows scrap over access to the feeder. Dunnocks, a robin and a blackbird are the regular foragers below the feeder. All three species are not big seed eaters, but they are flexible generalists. One blackbird – an adult male – has got very tame and waits patiently by the feeder for it to be refilled first thing in the morning. It comes to the seed as I am doling it out and seems happy to feed very close – it would probably jump onto my hand if I stood still enough. Blackbirds are particularly flexible in their diet and seem to eat almost everything, animal and vegetable. This makes them a good urban species. Their original habitat is open woodland but sometime in the mid-19th century they started moving into towns and cities. Now they are found at some of their highest densities in suburban and urban areas. Their tameness also serves them well. Humans in cities are not threatening and most don’t even see the blackbirds at their feet. It is a big evolutionary step for a species to discount humans appropriately (although it is complicated because migrant blackbirds need a different set of rules if they head across France, Spain or Italy in the autumn…). And it is a necessary step for a species to be successful on a planet with 9 billion people.

When you see a blackbird up close you realise how beautiful they are – the males are really black all over except for their contrasting bright yellow bills and eye-rings.

Posted December 24, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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