About this time last year I published a post about the battling blackbirds in my back garden. The weather last February was mild and vry pleasant and I think the breeding season really got going then. As you can see, full on combat ensued. This year has seen none of the aggression of past year, at least not in my garden, but whilst watching the other birds I noticed this female blackbird making repeated trips to collect moss from my lawn. I’ve never understood why us Brits in particular want our garden lawns to look like the centre court at Wimbledon (before the All England Championships), I’d much rather see sights like this:
Behind the magnificent mossy muzzy is a female blackbird
She has been toing and froing for at least three days now collecting these huge beakfuls of moss and I reckon her chicks are going to be as snug as a bug in the nest she is busy constructing.
The male has also been very busy in the garden but his activities are rather less altruistic…
Seed or fruit, which is it to be?
There might even be a worm under there…
Result! That bloke in there has left me an apple core
All his visits seem to be focussed solely on replenishing his energy supply, but the reason I’ve seen no battles this year is because he’s dealt with the opposition, so I guess he needs to concentrate on feeding himself up again.
The blackbird (Turdus merula, Dansk: solsort) and the fieldfare (Turdus pilaris, Dansk: sjagger), both members of the thrush family, like fruit and any old grapes, apple cores or pears get thrown out for them.
I have never seen them fighting, probably because I see only one or two each spring (none yet this year). But a very nice bird, and nice posts, both of them!
That’s interesting Bente, do they head south for the winter from where you are? We get eastern European blackbirds migrating here in the winter but maybe we get some Scandinavian ones too.
I agree with you. Our lawn isn’t exactly a showplace, but it gets used a lot!
It’s the way it should be 🙂
Another great reason to not weed or feed the garden lawn. Hopefully this will encourage gardeners to see moss as a positive and fighting moss in shady damp areas of any lawn is a losing battle anyway 🙂
Indeed so. I wish people would think twice before pouring toxic chemicals all over their gardens, and as you say, in damp areas the moss will invariably prevail.
They’re so lively and bright and you’ve captured that so well with this sequence. The mouthful of moss one is marvellous 😉
Today she’d been harvesting the rabbits straw and was flying to and fro with beakfulls of long straight straw like a Wing Commander with his walrus moustache, unfortunately I didn’t manage a photograph but if I get one I’ll post it.
Our grass is full of moss and also plenty of long grasses in the Summer 🙂 If we had more sun in Summer, I’d have a wildflower meadow but the trees which cast the shadows are wonderful for wildlife.
Speaking of male blackbirds being altruistic – a few years ago we had the pleasure of watching – via a camera we subsequently set up – a nest of blackbirds in our porch. After they hatched, something must have happened to the female as she wasn’t around very long for the feeding. The male, however, took her place and fed the chicks until they fledged despite having escaped death after a terrible mauling from a local cat. He looked completely exhausted but did what he needed to do to ensure the young survived.
You’ve reminded me that I must get my birdcam set up in the nest box! I’m going to try to link it to The Naturephile so there is a live video feed.
That’s an interesting story about the male blackbird, proof that they do fulfil their parental responsibilities. Do you know if he survived to raise further broods?
I love your pictures of blackbirds and I remember that post from last year. I completely agree with you on the moss-in-lawn front. I cannot understand this objection to having moss in a lawn, my mum’s always going on about how her lawn is more moss than lawn and envying every other lawn she sees, which she claims have less moss than hers. I love the springiness moss gives to a lawn, and your picture of a female blackbird making use of your lawn only confirms all my previous beliefs regarding the matter. I eat quite a lot of pears but I put the cores in the compost, from now on I must try to remember to save them for the blackies.
I hope Mrs M has her lawn envy under control. Who knowws where that could lead? Crocus coveting, geranium jealousy? It’s a slippery slope 😉
The blackbirds will be grateful for any apple or pear cores or old over ripe ones which are no longer fit for human consumption.
What a handsome fellow! That second shot is a particularly nice portrait. I hope you don’t have much more cold weather that will require an especially snugly-insulated nest, but at least their chicks will have one if they need it.
He’s a beauty. I think it’s a special kind of black – very sleek and luxurious. In the same way that, at the other end of the spectrum, the white feathers of the gannet are spectacular too. Unfortunately we have more cold weather and even snow forecast so I reckon those blackbird eggs and chicks will be grateful for the mossy lining of their home.
I was watching a show about animals and birds that had secret weapons the other day and apparently the fieldfare bombards rampaging ravens hell bent on scarfing their young with their, and other fieldfares dung. They send out a hue and cry and the rest of the colony turn up ready for dirty battle. It was interesting to see the raven trying to sniff out their babies and the whole colony dumping bucket loads of guano on him. He left sans babies and more white than black! I love blackbirds and will be leaving them fruit over the winter now that I know that they like it :).
That’s a fascinating story Fran. I didn’t know that fieldfare have adopted that defensive measure. I love blackbirds too and I’m pleased to have this pair nesting close by. I’ll keep watching and hopefully there’ll be some fledglings to show you in the near future.
I didn’t know about the fieldfare either but I found it incredibly interesting and that raven certainly didn’t see it coming! 😉 I rarely see fledglings. It’s nest, then off and flying here because we rarely see where they nest. It will be very interesting to see fledglings in situ 🙂
I agree about lawns… there was a famous Australian gardener Edna Walling ( circa V Sackville-West) who used to say that real gardeners love moss in their lawns… which makes us real gardeners!
Hear, hear! Hats off to Mrs Walling for talking sense. As Lorna says in her comment here, I love the springy sponginess of a mossy lawn.
So Mr Blackbird does no nest-building at all?
I don’t know if they never do, but so far this chap has had other priorities.