Common Blackbird- Turdus merula
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Class: Aves
- Order: Passeriformes
- Family: Turdidae
- Genre: Turdus
- Species: Turdus merula
The male is black, the female dark brown. In spring and autumn, the male has a yellow beak and periorbital ring.
It has a wide range, including Europe, Asia and North America. It has been introduced into Australia and New Zealand. It has populations that are resident, migratory or partially migratory, the latter being represented by northern European populations that move south during the autumn. In Romania it is a common species in parks, gardens and forests, regardless of altitude. The breeding population in Romania ranges from 2 623 894 to 3 192 900 pairs and is on an upward trend.
Living environment and biology of the species
Blackbirds are found in both urban parks and mountain forests. It is found in dense forests as well as in grasslands, in various crops, in some wetlands, and in most urban areas. It tolerates cold, windy and wet areas better than dry ones. Avoids areas that do not provide shelter more than 100-200 m away. Off-season breeding may be gregarious. Maximum longevity in the wild is 21 years and eight months. Reaches sexual maturity at the age of one year.
Food consists of insects and earthworms, but in autumn and winter they eat fruit and seeds. It feeds on the ground or in trees and bushes, foraging under leaves at the edge of forests or even in a 5-7 cm thick layer of snow. Exceptionally it feeds on small fish, lizards and newts. During the winter it can often be found at feeders. It is a monogamous species. The nesting season begins in mid-April. Males engage in intense territorial battles. The female lays a clutch of 2-6 blue-green eggs with brownish spots in a nest in bushes at the base of branches in trees or shrubs. The female builds the nest with materials brought by the male. It can also nest in places close to humans, such as flower pots, unopened mailboxes, burlons, windowsills, firewood stores, abandoned chimneys. Occasionally it can also nest on the ground.
The nest is shaped like a deep cup, built of twigs, straw, usually with moss at the base, and plastered with mud on the inside in which fine strands of vegetation are caught. The cages that are in the localities may also contain pieces of paper or even strips of plastic bags as building material. The young are incubated for 12-14 days by the female only, and after 11-14 days the young fly out of the nest. During incubation the male may replace the female at hatching, but only for short periods of time. The chicks are still fed by the parents for three weeks after leaving the nest until they are completely independent of them. A pair frequently lays two eggs in a breeding season.
Threats and conservation measures
Threats are habitat alteration, fragmentation and loss, habitat alteration and loss due to agricultural activities or land use change, contamination by agricultural products, poaching Conservation measures include: matching forestry work to the biology of the species to avoid disturbance during critical periods, maintaining the understory layer in logged forests prohibiting deforestation resulting in a decrease in forest size and land use change, maintaining and increasing the extent of native forests, aiming for the highest level of structural and species diversity, promoting management types that favour forest heterogeneity, maintaining a mosaic of habitats with the presence of tree stands and shrubs in open, agricultural areas.
It is important to maintain and emphasise corridors between areas of spontaneous grassland including trees, tree lines and scattered groups of non-productive trees. The use of insecticides and herbicides in agriculture and forestry should be greatly reduced and, where necessary and in the absence of alternatives, the use of substances with minimal toxicity and persistence should be justified and applied on the species’ breeding grounds only outside the breeding season.
Importance should be attached to preventing and penalising illegal bush fires, control and enforcement of hunting legislation through cooperation between environmental organisations, hunting organisations, the gendarmerie and the anti-poaching environmental guard. An inventory is needed of breeding, migration, feeding and aggregation areas important for the conservation of the species. It is also useful to promote studies on the biology of the species.
- Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres-Szászka Judit (editors), 2022, Atlas of bird species of community interest in Romania, 2nd edition – Love birds, save nature!, Project financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests – Biodiversity Directorate, scientific coordination Romanian Ornithological Society and Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature Milvus Group, produced by EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 420.
Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Small Ornithological Atlas – Birds of the World, Albatros Publishing House, Bucharest, p. 195.