[order] Passeriformes | [family] Turdidae | [latin] Turdus merula | [UK] Blackbird | [FR] Merle noir | [DE] Amsel | [ES] Mirlo Común | [IT] Merlo | [NL] Merel

Merel determination

copyright: nettlebedaccipiter

Medium-sized, round-headed, rather long-tailed, noisy thrush, differing from all other west Palearctic Turdus in uniformly or mainly dark plumage. Black in male, and rufous-brown in female. Only obvious features are yellow bill in male, pale throat in female. Flight wavering, with fast bursts of wing-beats, rather long, rounded tail obvious. Song rich and fluting. Sexes dissimilar, little seasonal variation.

Exceptionally diverse, including dense woodland, varied types of farmland, heaths moors, some wetlands, and settled sites including inner cities. Found in middle and overlapping to lower middle and upper latitudes of west Palearctic, including oceanic islands and coasts as will as milder boreal and temperate continental regions. Given shelter, will tolerate wet, windy, and cool situations better than very warm and dry ones, prefers moisture and shade, with ample access to bare ground, layers of dead leaves or short grass and herbage.

Turdus merula is a widespread breeder across most of Europe, which constitutes >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is extremely large (>40,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. The species underwent a small increase during 1990-2000, with increases in the sizeable populations in Germany, France and Italy, and stable or increasing trends across most of the rest of Europe.
This thrush inhabits north-western Africa and a major part of Europe, being absent only from northern Scandinavia and Finland. In Asia its distribution is extending from Turkey to southern China. In southern and western Europe the species is sedentary, but the birds of the north and the east are migratory and winter in the south-west. Originally a bird of dense forest, this species has become adapted to man-made environments and urban areas since the last century. The total population of Europe, Russia not included, is amounting to 43 million breeding pairs

Mainly insects and earthworms, also fruit from late summer to early winter. Feeds largely on ground throughout year, though also in trees and bushes. Foraging behaviour on grass meadow described as follows: typically makes series of straight line movements separated by short pauses after which bird may change direction.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 79,000,000-160,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Breeds Mid March to late June in West Europe and Britain, March-June in Canary Islands. Nest site is typically built against trunk of small tree or bush supported by small banches and twigs, or among branches, frequently in or on wall, outside or inside building, among pile of brushwood or other cebris, or occasionally on ground. Nest is a substantial cup of grass,straw, small twis and other plant material, usually on foundation of moss, occasionally incorporating decoration of paper, foil, etc, plastered inside with mud and lined with fine grass. 3-5 eggs, incubation 12-14 days, by female only.

Resident and migratory, with northern populations moving south or west to winter in southern or western Europe chiefly within boundaries of breeding range. Chiefly a nocturnal migrant with many killed on North Sea crossings at lighthouses. In contrast to other thrushes, little affected by severe winters and hard-weather movements are unusual. Autumn movements begin late September with main passage in October and early November, but juveniles disperse from breeding areas during July and early August; directions usually random. Return movement to north or north-east begins late February, with main passage in March and early April and some birds still on passage in early May.