how big are black birds

Taxonomy and systematics edit

In his seminal 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae, Carl Linnaeus described the common blackbird as Turdus merula (characterized as T ater, rostro palpebrisque fulvis). [4] The two Latin words turdus, which means “thrush,” and merula, which means “blackbird,” are the sources of the binomial name. The latter gives rise to the French name merle[5] and the Scots name merl. [6].

The genus Turdus contains about 65 species of medium-to large thrushes that are distinguished by their rounded heads, long, pointed wings, and typically melodic songs. While the song and mistle thrush are two European thrushes that are early offshoots of the Eurasian lineage of Turdus thrushes that migrated north from Africa, the blackbird is descended from ancestors that colonized the Canary Islands in Africa before making their way to Europe. In terms of evolution, it is similar to the island thrush (T poliocephalus) of the islands in the southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia, which most likely diverged from T merula stock fairly recently. [8].

It may not be immediately apparent why this species was given the name “blackbird,” which was first documented in 1486, rather than any of the other numerous common black English birds, like the jackdaw, raven, rook, or carrion crow. However, “bird” was only used for smaller or younger birds in Old English and Modern English up until roughly the 18th century; larger birds, like crows, were referred to as “fowl.” Thus, the blackbird was the only common and noticeable “black bird” in the British Isles at that time. [9] The species was also known as ouzel, ousel, or wosel until roughly the 17th century (from Old English osle, cf. German Amsel). Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream has another variation in Act 3, where Bottom speaks of “The Woosell cocke, so blacke of hew, With Orenge-tawny bill.” Later on, the term “ouzel” was used in poetry and is still used today to refer to the closely related ring ouzel (Turdus torquatus) as well as the unrelated but seemingly similar white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus). [10].

The icterid family of the New World is sometimes referred to as the “blackbird family” due to some species’ apparent similarities to Old World thrushes and the common blackbird, but they are not closely related evolutionary wise; instead, they are related to New World warblers and tanagers. [13] The term is frequently restricted to smaller species that have all or mostly black plumage, at least in the breeding male, such as cowbirds, grackles, and about 20 species that have the word “blackbird” in their names, like the melodious blackbird and the red-winged blackbird. [13].

Subspecies edit

Given that this is a widely distributed species of passerine bird, there are recognized subspecies in various geographic regions. This article treats subspecies in accordance with Clement et al. (2000). [8].

  • T. m. The nominate subspecies, merula, breeds widely throughout most of Europe, from the British Isles, Iceland, and the Faroes east to the Ural Mountains and north to roughly 70 N, where it is relatively rare. A small population breeds in the Nile Valley. Northern range birds spend the winter in Europe and the Mediterranean region, which includes North Africa and Cyprus. The nominate race comprises the introduced birds found in Australia and New Zealand. [8].
  • T. m. azorensis is a small race which breeds in the Azores. The male is darker and glossier than merula. [16].
  • T. m. Called after the Spanish zoologist Ángel Cabrera, cabrerae is similar to azorensis and breeds in Madeira and the western Canary Islands. [16].
  • T. m. mauritanicus, a tiny, dark subspecies that breeds in coastal Algeria, northern Tunisia, and central and northern Morocco and has glossy black male plumage [16] First-summer male, probably subspecies aterrimus.
  • T m. Aterrimus breeds in northern Turkey, northern Iran, southern Greece, Crete, and the south and east of Hungary. In southern Turkey, northern Egypt, southern Iran, and southern Iraq, winter falls. With duller male and paler female plumage, it is smaller than merula. [16].
  • T. m. The Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey, extending to Jordan, Israel, and the northern Sinai, is where Syriancus breeds. The majority of its population is resident, but some travel to the Jordan Valley and the Nile Delta in northern Egypt, south to roughly Cairo, for the winter. This subspecies’ grayer and darker plumages are found in both sexes compared to their merula counterparts. [8].
  • T. m. Asian race intermedius is found in eastern China, western and northeastern Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Central Russia. While many birds are permanent residents, some migrate uphill during the winter and can be found in southern Afghanistan and southern Iraq. [8] This is a large subspecies, with a female that is blackish-brown and a male that is sooty-black. [17].

The somewhat large intermedius subspecies of Central Asia differs in voice and structure as well and might be a separate species. As an alternative, it has been proposed that it be regarded as a T subspecies [17]. maximus,[8] but it varies in terms of voice, structure, and how the eye ring looks. [17][18].

  • Female of subspecies merula
  • Juvenile T. m. merula in England
  • Young adult T. m. merula in Oxfordshire
  • An adult male leucistic bird in England with a large amount of white plumage
  • T. m. cabrerae on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Status and conservation edit

The common blackbird has an extensive range, estimated at 32. 4 million square kilometres (12. 5 million square miles), as well as a sizable population—between 79 and 160 million people are thought to live in Europe alone. The species is not thought to be getting close to the IUCN Red List’s population decline thresholds (i e. , declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), and is therefore deemed to be of the least concern. [51] Populations are generally stable or growing in the western Palearctic[16], but there have been local declines, particularly on farmland. These may be the result of agricultural policies that encouraged farmers to remove hedgerows, which provide nesting places, drain damp grassland, and use more pesticides—all of which may have decreased the amount of food available for invertebrates. [41].

A bird dealer who was traveling through Melbourne in early 1857 brought the common blackbird with him to Australia [52]. Since then, it has spread throughout all of southeast Australia, including Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. [53] Because it damages a range of soft fruits in orchards, parks, and gardens, including berries, cherries, stone fruit, and grapes, the introduced population in Australia is regarded as a pest. [52] It is believed to disperse weeds like blackberries and could pose a threat to native birds’ nesting places and food sources. [52][54].

In New Zealand, the native silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) and the introduced common blackbird are the most extensively dispersed avian seed dispersers. It was brought there in 1862 along with the song thrush (Turdus philomelos), and since then, it has expanded throughout the nation and outlying islands like the Campbell and Kermadecs, reaching an altitude of 1,500 meters (4,921 feet). [55] It consumes a variety of domestic and foreign fruits and plays a significant role in the emergence of naturalized woody weed communities. These communities produce fruit that is better suited for naturalized and non-endemic native birds than for endemic ones. [56].

  • Turdus merula cabrerae – MHNT
  • Turdus merula merula – MHNT
  • Turdus merula mauritanicus – MHNT
  • Turdus merula azorensis – MHNT


How big are common black birds?

The common blackbird of the nominate subspecies T. m. merula is 23.5–29 cm (9.3–11.4 in) in length, has a long tail, and weighs 80–125 g (2.8–4.4 oz). The adult male has glossy black plumage, blackish-brown legs, a yellow eye-ring and an orange-yellow bill.

Which is bigger a crow or a blackbird?

Blackbird vs Crow Size On average, blackbirds are four times smaller than crows. The average adult blackbird weighs around a 1/4 of a pound, and the average adult crow weighs around 1 pound. Additionally, blackbirds vary in size but are usually 9 to 11 inches long, and crows are 16 to 20 inches long.

What is the largest black bird?

The raven is among the smartest of all birds, a magnificent acrobatic flyer, the largest species of songbird, the largest all-black bird in the world, and an endless source of fascination to man throughout the ages.

What are the huge black birds in my yard?

Crows and ravens are large black birds found throughout North America, and they can be hard to tell apart. The best clue for identification is usually the voice, but the species differ in some other subtle ways, too.