Nature Blog: understanding the blackbird’s song


One of my favourite bird songs is that of the seemingly ever present Blackbird (Aderyn Du or Mwyalchen in Welsh) with its lovely rich flute like quality. Although the so called dawn chorus in the spring is a wonderful start to the day, the sound of a Blackbird singing at dusk has a special sort of summery quality to it, so it was really heartening to hear one of our many resident birds giving a defiantly optimistic solo performance from one of the trees on the south drive as I left the quarry last night in the gathering mist. Of course the main sounds you hear from the Blackbirds at this time of year are the agitated alarm calls as they dash frantically around the place warning each other of real and sometimes imaginary dangers. If you have a good musical ear, and with a bit of practice, you can distinguish between these alarm calls which vary according to the percieved threat — the call warning of a ground predator such as a cat or a fox is markedly different from the one which tells other birds that an airborne danger in the shape of a hawk or owl is around. The call when a Blackbird is startled by the unexpected appearance of a person always seems to me more of an annoyed and exasperated scolding than a real alarm call – but then I do have a bit of an unscientific habit of putting a rather anthropomorphic slant on things at times – I will have to try and kerb it. Coming soon- the tale of Arthur the Tick and his adventures in a jungle of grey hair.

  • Google found me this when I was looking up blackbird song – it is remarkably beautiful, isn’t it? Our local bb isn’t dashing anywhere, he’s sitting on top of someone’s aerial and just singing away. They never seem to repeat a phrase (perhaps I should be taking notes…), so it’s more like chat than a song. It’s hard not to be anthropomorphic about it!

  • Roger Boaden

    I’m English but I live in France. We have what I think is a blackbird who entertains us to his melodies at dusk and dawn, singing from the highest trees or chimneys around. He (or she) sings fir to burst their lungs. I would love to know more – is it a blackbird, male or female – definitely a black medium sized bird