blackbird defined in 1930 yearblackbird - Blackbird;
blackbird - Black; bill and orbits of the eyes orange-yellow. Female: sooty brown. Length, ten inches.
Among the feathered inhabitants of these islands there is scarcely a more familiar figure than that of the blackbird. Not only is he very generally diffused, and abundant in all suitable localities, but he is attached to human habitations - a bird of the garden, lawn, and shrubberies. His music is much to us, his beautiful mellow voice being unique in character in this country. But, more than his voice, his love of gardens and their produce, and whatever else serves to make him better known than most birds, is his blackness. Excepting the crows he is the only British bird in the passerine order with a wholly black plumage; and his bright yellow bill increases the effect of the blackness, and, like a golden crown, gives him a strange beauty. Like Iiis companion of the garden and shrubbery, the throstle, he is a skulker, and on the least alarm takes shelter under the thickest evergreen within reach. When disturbed from his hiding-place he rushes out impetuously with a great noise, making the place resound with his loud, clear, ringing and musical chuckle. But he is not so inveterate a skulker and in love with the shade as the other. You will sometimes find him on hillsides and open moors, or nesting in the scanty tufts of sea-campion on rocky islands where he has for only neighbour the rock-pipit. But above all situations he prefers the garden and well-planted ground, and in such places is most abundant. His food is the same as that of the throstle, and is taken in much the same way he listens for the earthworms working near the surface of the ground, and hammers the snails against a stone to break the shells. In the fruit season he is very troublesome to the gardener, and greedily devours strawberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries and mulberries.
The song of the male begins early in spring, and is mostly heard during the early and late hours of the day. Its charm consists in the peculiar soft, rich, melodious quality of the sound, and the placid, leisurely manner in which it is delivered. But the manner varies greatly. ' He sings in a quiet, leisurely way, as a great master should,' says Richard Jefferies; unfortunately, the great master too often ends his performance unworthily with an unmusical note, or he collapses ignominiously at the close. John Burroughs, the American writer on birds, thus describes it: 'It was the most leisurely strain I heard. Amid the loud, vivacious, work-a-day chorus it had an easeful dolce far niente effect... It constantly seemed to me as if the bird was a learner, and had not yet mastered his art. The tone is fine, but the execution is laboured; the musician does not handle his instrument with deftness and confidence.' Perhaps it may be said that, of all the most famed bird-songs, that of the blackbird is the least perfect and the most delightful.
The blackbird places his nest in the centre of a hedge or in an evergreen; it is formed of herbs, roots, and coarse grass, plastered inside with mud, and lined with fine dry grass. Four to six eggs are laid, light greenish blue in ground-colour, mottled with pale brown. Two or three, and sometimes as many as four, broods are reared in the season.
In the northern and more exposed parts of the country the blackbird has a partial migration, or shifts his quarters to more sheltered localities in the winter.
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