You know all about the male blackbird, but what about the female blackbirds? While the male blackbird’s name doesn’t lie, the same cannot be said of his mate! Female blackbirds are brown and not black like their male counterparts, as well as having other unique characteristics and behaviors that we’ll explore in this article.
What are Female Blackbirds?
With a long name like Turdus merula , it’s no wonder that female blackbirds are called something more simple: brown birds. Female blackbirds tend to have brown plumage on their backs with lighter brown feathers on their stomachs. Males can be distinguished from females by size and color. The male is typically larger than his counterpart and has more jet-black feathers throughout his body.
Male blackbirds on average weigh 7 grams while females average around 8 grams in weight. By comparison, a female great-tailed grackle weighs 13 grams and male great-tailed grackles weigh 9 to 10 grams on average. The overall color of a female blackbird ranges from sandy gray to rusty brown with hints of rufous feathers on her back, wings and tail.
What does a female blackbird look like?
There is a reason why female blackbirds have been named black for so long. The females in most bird species tend to be brown or grey, making them hard to distinguish from male birds. Male blackbirds are easily recognized by their black feathers and bright yellow beaks. However, female blackbirds are actually brown.
The male blackbirds are genuine black with orange colored rings around their eyes and beak. Whereas, female blackbirds are far different. They have a sooty-brown body with light pale patches on their throat. Their beak is dull brownish-yellow color. Those that live in Australia or Asia may be slightly darker than those living in North America or Europe.
Not only their body color but male and female blackbirds differ from each other in respect to the length of their wings. The male blackbirds have longer wings as they need to defend their family and territory and provide food. Whereas, females have to defend less comparatively.
How Can You Tell if a Bird is a Female or Male?
There’s a simple way to tell if a bird is a female or male! If you know what to look for, it’s pretty easy. In some species, females and males look very similar; in others though there are obvious visual cues.
A female blackbird is actually brown. In contrast to its male counterpart, which has an entirely jet-black body, females have patches of brown feathers interspersed with glossy black feathers on their backs and wings. The male’s bright red eyes also help make it easy to identify at a distance as compared to a female blackbird’s dull yellow eyes. Female blackbirds also have shorter beaks than their male counterparts. Once you know what you’re looking for, determining whether or not a bird is a female or male is relatively easy!
Do female blackbirds sing like the males?
Apart from being visually different, they also sound different. Males have loud and melodious sounds compared to female ones. If you haven’t heard it, you can hear it between March and September. As it is their breeding season, they try to attract a female mate with their voice.
Female Blackbird Call
Sławomir Karpicki-Ignatowski, XC609366. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/609366.
Male Blackbird Call
Manceau Lionel, XC662689. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/662689.
Whereas, female blackbirds are much less sound-making than males. They prefer to sing only during their breeding season in response to the males. They do sing but with a light humming voice which is heard only in the absence of other birds nearby.
What Do Female Blackbirds Eat?
Female blackbirds must eat up to 2 times their own body weight in food every day. In fact, female blackbirds’ dietary habits differ greatly from that of male blackbirds—in addition to being brown and not black, females have a less hearty diet and consume more seeds than males. Female blackbird diets also include insects such as spiders and caterpillars. The difference in dietary needs between male and female birds allow researchers to identify which is which during mating season.
Are female blackbirds territorial?
Just like male blackbirds, female blackbirds are also highly territorial in the place where they breed. However, during winter seasons and migration they become more social.
Do blackbirds mate for life?
Since blackbirds have lived with humans for centuries, we have a pretty good idea of what they do (and don’t) do. According to Birds of North America: Many kinds [of blackbird] mate for life and defend a permanent territory. Some birds will break up after one or both mates die or when they find a new partner during breeding season, but most don’t stray far from their lifelong partners. If you hear a single bird chirping outside your window at sunrise every day in late spring and summer without fail, there’s a good chance that bird has found its true love! This certainly isn’t true for all species of blackbird (the reasons for divorce vary from species to species), but it is commonly seen in many varieties.
Nesting and raising young
Although they may look aggressive, females protect their eggs fiercely and will not hesitate to dive bomb anyone who gets too close to their babies. It’s also important to note that male blackbirds do not protect nests or babies—it is up to females to raise them all by themselves! So if you come across a nesting female blackbird with young ones in tow, stay away from her for both your sakes.
Female blackbirds are the sole constructors of their nests during the breeding season. They construct large cup-shaped nests with the help of dry grasses, stems, and little twigs. They give their nest a finishing with a layer of mud and grass lining.
The nests of blackbirds are generally seen against a wall in trees, climbing plants and bushes. They are not built at great heights and it ranges from 0.5 to 15 meters from the ground level. While females are busy building the nest, the males help in defending their territory.
Why Are They Called Black Birds?
Male blackbirds are called black birds because of their glossy black feathers. In fact, it’s likely that male birds became known as black due to their dark plumage. Female blackbirds have more brown feathers than males do, hence why they aren’t called black birds. The name is merely descriptive and different in comparison to female brown birds who have darker plumage than their male counterparts.
Are juvenile blackbirds black?
Female blackbirds, tough distinguished with Male blackbirds can be easily confused with Juvenile Blackbirds. They are also brown with streaks below. Their wings are spotted with buff color in detail.
Both the sexes of juvenile birds look similar and are often confused with adult female blackbirds. They generally fledge the nest and hop on the ground along with their parents when they cannot fly for food.
Male and Female Blackbirds behavioral differences in the breeding season
During courtship in blackbirds, female blackbirds (Turdus merula) show greater levels of response than males. As with many other birds that have both male and female parental care (cooperative breeding), male parental care is more limited and females may be relatively more responsive to courtship displays.
During mating season male blackbirds in many species develop a bright orange bill and a dark (hence black) plumage. These males spend their time singing to attract female birds and defending their territory from other males. Female blackbirds actually have brown plumage as well as brownish-orange bills but they aren’t nearly as colorful. Females also tend to be slightly smaller than males when it comes to overall size.
- Male blackbirds are anti-social birds and develop a territory during their first year. They use song and a courtship dance to attract and invite a female inside its boundaries.
- Females are solely responsible for nest building. Males keep watch over her and his territory as she works.
- When the young fledge, both parents feed the young; with each adult always caring for the same birds.
- The female often leaves the group first, leaving the male in charge. It allows her to focus on her next brood.