Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Blackbird (Turdus merula), one of the best known British song-birds, breeding in every county, occurring also nearly all over Europe (in some parts, however, only as a winter visitant), and in the north of Africa and the Azores. The adult male is about ten inches long, plumage glossy black, under-surface of wings greyish-black, bill and edges of eyelids gamboge-yellow; in the female the upper plumage is umber-brown, with some darker spots, belly, sides, and lower tail-coverts hair-brown, bill dusky brown. In very old birds the feathers of the hind-neck are tipped with fine hairs. Albino, pied, and cream-coloured specimens are met with from time to time. Blackbirds pair early in spring, and often rear two broods - a fact noted by Aristotle. The nest is formed of small sticks and root-fibres, plastered inside with mud and lined with soft dry grass, and is generally built in a thickset hedge or close bush or tree. The eggs are four or five in number, bluish-green with brownish markings; and the male assists his mate in feeding the brood. The food of the blackbird is very varied in character; in summer it commits great depreciations in fields and gardens, making some amends, however. by the number of snails, slugs, and beetles which it consumes in the winter. Its natural song is loud and clear; it can be taught simple airs and to articulate short sentences. In Old and Middle English the blackbird was often called the Merle, a name now confined to provincial English or archaic literature. In America the name is loosely used for many birds of sable plumage.