Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Eurasian blackbird

Turdus merula

Photo by Bojan Bencic (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Eurasian blackbird (en); melro-preto (pt); merle noir (fr); mirlo común (es); amsel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae

This species is found breeding in northern Africa, throughout Europe and into southern Asia to India and southern China. The northern and eastern populations migrate south to winter in north-eastern Africa, the Middle East and South-east Asia. It was introduced to eastern Australia and New Zealand.

These birds are 23,5-29 cm long and have a wingspan of 35-38 cm. They weigh 80-125 g.

The Eurasian blackbird is able to explore a wide range of habitats, from urban centres to woodlands and forests, scrublands and agricultural areas. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 4.600 m.

They are omnivorous, eating a wide range of food items including fruits and berries, earthworms, insects, snails, leaches, centipedes, spiders and even small reptiles and mammals. They are also known to occasionally eat the eggs of other birds.

Within their native range, Eurasian blackbirds breed in February-August. The nest is a stout cup made of twigs, stems, mud and dry grass, placed in a tree or scrub. The female lays 3-5 bluish eggs with reddish-brown mottles, which she incubates alone for 12-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-14 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from parents for another 2-3 weeks.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 150-500 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable overall, and in Europe several population have shown moderate increases over the last 3 decades.

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