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Helping out the nesting blackbirds

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 02 May 2014 at 12:53 PM

There are blackbirds (Turdus merula) nesting in the ivy growing on the garden wall here. I noticed when I saw a female eagerly pecking at the half apple we’d put under the bench and flying into the ivy with a beakful of it. Seeing her going back and forth a few times, I decided to add a little extra for the young birds and went out to the compost bays to dig out some worms. These went into a plastic tray with a bit of the compost and the tray was put under the bench. Blackbirds can find their own worms, of course, but it’s interesting to see them eagerly gathering up the worms and taking them off to feed their young ones.

Yummy worms!


Within five minutes of the tray being put down, the female had spotted it and came to investigate. She gathered up a beakful of worms, scattering compost in the process, and went looking for the young birds who have already left the nest. There are at least two fledgling blackbirds in the courtyard and their slightly peevish cheeps can be heard coming from under plants and between pots.



Checking out the tray of compost and worms

If the blackbird didn’t find a fledgling to give the worms to after about three minutes of looking and clucking, she flew into the ivy and gave them to the nestlings instead.



 First worm selected


Her flight into the ivy and then out again both happened so fast that it was hard to capture on camera but I did manage to get one of her tail sticking out of the leaves.



 Going into the nest in the ivy


If you have birds nesting nearby and a compost heap or bin with a ready supply of worms in it, you could try this at home and help to give the young birds a good start. Put the tray of worms somewhere sheltered, but where you can still see it like under a bench or shrub, and watch to see which birds come to take the worms and then where they go with them.


EvaInNL said:

Great pics Miranda!   Do birds normally favor the fledglings over the nestlings when feeding?

on 02 May 2014 at 11:15 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Good question, Eva. I don't know the answer, but maybe it's that the birds already out of the nest are considered a more urgent matter than those still in it, because they're expending more energy. Or maybe they're more visible, or closer to the parent bird. It would certainly be interesting to know for sure.  

on 03 May 2014 at 10:20 AM