I love the spring time, watching for signs of new life and right now my garden is a bustling hub of activity.
I am not the tidiest of gardeners but that proves to be an advantage when wanting to encourage nature to your doorstep.
After a fascinating couple of days watching the newly fledged blackbirds bobbing around my garden being fed by their parents, I thought it was time to find out a bit more about these common but lovely garden birds.
So what did I learn?
The Blackbird or turdus merula is a member of the thrush family, was sacred to the Greeks and is the National Bird of Sweden.
They enjoy a summer diet of insects and worms and like fruits in the winter.
The male establishes a territory in his first year and this last a lifetime.
The female produces her first brood aged one and during the breeding season can raise two or three broods.
Within shrubby cover, the female takes two weeks to build her nest before laying three to five eggs. She sits incubating these for a further two weeks before they hatch. The chicks are then fed by both parents visiting the nest in relays until they are strong enough to fledge at two weeks old.
Only 30 – 40 per cent of nests produce fledglings.
Flightless at first, the babies hop from branch to branch in shrubs and undergrowth near to the nest being fed by the parent birds with a supply of grubs. Within the first week out of the nest the young birds master flight and three weeks later they are independent of the parents.
During this first three weeks the primary care-giver is often the male while the female is busy sprucing up her nest to use again or making a new one for her next brood.
Blackbirds are partial migrants and have been known to breed in Norfolk in summer and winter in Devon.
The blackbird has average life expectancy of 2 – 3 years with the oldest known to have lived to be twenty one years and one month.
Blackbirds do sing in the dead of night particularly near street lighting in towns and cities.
According to folk-law having a blackbird nest near to the house is a sign of good fortune bringing the home owner a year of good luck.