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Common blackbird


The plumage of the males is solid black, the beak is strikingly light yellow to orange. In addition, males show a distinct ring around the eyes, the colour of which is similar to that of the beak, but can be somewhat brownish. This eye ring contrasts strongly with the dark brown iris. This eye ring is less distinct in the female, and the beak is also less conspicuous and light horn-coloured instead of yellow. The plumage colouration of the female is much more variable and predominantly dark brown, sometimes going into grey or reddish brown. The legs and toes of both sexes are dark brown. Compared to the smaller starling, which also has dark feathers and often stays on the ground, the blackbird has a much longer tail.

plumage of adult common blackbirds 

The plumage of adult males is quite uniformly black. Especially on the underpart, but also on the back and shoulder region, the feathers not infrequently show a grey to bronze-coloured terminal fringe, which is however quite inconspicuous and only gives a slightly scaly impression in good light conditions. The wing feathers may appear bleached in spring.
The upperparts of females are dark olive-brown to olive-grey in colour, the forehead often slightly less dark. The colouration of the lighter underparts varies greatly from individual to individual. The chin and throat are light dirty grey to reddish brown with dark stripes. The chest is brown-grey, yellow-brown to reddish-brown with more or less distinct speckles. The belly is brown, grey-brown or grey, sometimes with a distinctly scaled appearance due to a pale terminal fringe of feathers. The tail feathers are dark to blackish brown, primaries and secondaries dark brown with olive tinted outer vanes.


The blackbird originally preferred to live in the interior of moist, dense forests. Even today, it breeds in the dark locations of undergrowth-rich forests and forages on vegetation-free or short-grassed ground. In such a habitat, the blackbird's vision, which is exceptionally good for songbirds in twilight, is certainly an advantage. At the other end of the extraordinarily broad habitat spectrum today are the busy centres of large cities, so that because of this contrast the terms woodland and urban blackbird have become common.

Today, the blackbird occurs in almost all types of cultivated landscape. Its habitats include front gardens, parks and park-like areas, groups of trees and shrubs in industrial areas, meadows, bushy heaths and largely open fields, provided they are broken up with copses or shrubs. In addition to semi-natural, old forests, monoculturally managed forests are also colonised, whereby deciduous forests are preferred to coniferous forests. The blackbird also breeds in reeds. In all habitats, the birds, which forage on the ground, do not move too far away from vegetation providing cover. 

By far the highest settlement density is achieved within built-up areas, often with four or more breeding pairs per hectare. In forests, on the other hand, the density is considerably lower, rarely more than 0.5 breeding pairs per hectare. In rural areas and villages, the settlement density is usually between that of towns and forests.

Mountain forests are also colonised by the blackbird. In the Alps, it occurs up to the timberline.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsel). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 14 December 2021