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Garden biodiversity

Tayport Bird Notes: Blackbird

By 15th May 2020No Comments

‘Four and twenty blackbirds’ – the old nursery rhyme had it right as I am sure that there were at least two dozen blackbirds squabbling noisily over windfall apples in my garden last winter.  Now in mid May, a male sings from high in the apple tree, his voice sweet and at ease with the world.

Originally a woodland bird, the blackbird is now one of our commonest garden birds.  The male is smart and showy with his jet black plumage, yellow bill and yellow eye ring, overshadowing the more dowdy, brown female.  But for sheer courage, a female blackbird outclassed the other birds near my pond this morning.  She was frantically scolding a sparrowhawk, breakfasting on a poor thrush.  The hawk was only a few yards away from her, but she held her post to warn the rest of the bird community of the presence of danger.

UK population:  around 5.1 million pairs.  Since the 1970s, the population has declined by around 15%, with changes in farming practice a possible cause.  Numbers may now have stabilized.*

*Holden, P and Cleeves, T: RSPB Handbook of British Birds Fourth Edition (2014)

Photos: Richard Tough

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