English Blackbird, European Blackbird, Merle, Golden-bill
The Common Blackbird is one of two introduced 'true thrushes' in Australia; the other is the Song Thrush, T. philomelos. The indigenous thrushes are the Bassian, Zoothera lunulata, and the Russet-tailed Thrush, Z. heinei.
The Common Blackbird was introduced to Australia at Melbourne in the 1850s. The male is the 'black' bird, with deep orange to yellow bill, a narrow yellow eye-ring and dark legs. The female is a brown bird, with some streaks or mottling, and has a dark bill and legs. Immature birds are similar to the female with lighter underparts.
The Common Blackbird is most often found in urban areas and surrounding localities, but has successfully moved into bushland habitats. It is often seen in orchards, vineyards and gardens, as well as along roadsides and in parks.
The Common Blackbird, was originally confined to Melbourne and Adelaide, but has gradually expanded its range throughout south-eastern Australia, both on the coast and inland, as far north as Sydney, and including Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands.
Feeding and diet
The Common Blackbird eats insects, earthworms, snails, spiders and a range of seeds and fruit. It mainly forages on the ground, probing and scratching at leaf litter, lawns and soil.
A repeated 'tchook' call and a melodious, warbling song.
The Common Blackbird builds a cup-shaped nest of dried grass, bound with mud, and lined with fine grasses. It is usually placed in a tree, shrub or low bush, but they will also use tree hollows.
- Breeding season: September to January
- Clutch size: 3 to 5, usually 4
- Incubation: 14 days
- Time in nest: 14 days
The Common Blackbird can be a pest in orchards, parks and gardens, being rather destructive of ground vegetation, particularly backyard vegetable patches.
- Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.
- Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.