Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Blackbird behaviour

We observed a few days ago a strange display by a blackbird. We have an arbour a few yards from the kitchen window and a male blackbird came and stood on one corner. A few seconds later another male stood on another corner. Nothing odd there, but instead of the usual noisy fracas, the first bird lowered its head opened its beak slightly and proceeded to sway its head from side to side five or six times, much like an avocet does when feeding. Another male arrived on another corner and the first bird did this action again, all three stood in silence until a female arrived and spoiled things. bird one followed by bird two, then three, and finally the female flew off in silence. It looked like a submission display to us. Anyone seen this behaviour before?


David Sutcliffe said...

I don't recall anything like that Bruce - very strange behaviour. A few weeks ago we were getting between 14 and 17 Blackbirds in the garden at first light and they were very fractious - but nothing like that sort of behaviour - generally just chased each other off the food. Perhaps this is territorial behaviour??

Steve Cummings said...

D W Snow "The Blackbird" has an illustration of "...intense aggressive posture of a male...confronting an equally matched rival" Head forward with open bill, wings and tail dropped.
If I'm not mistaken, don't Herring Gulls use the same type of threat display? Male Blackbirds will meet and posture at a territorial boundary. Submissive display of an intruder shown before flying off is with head stretched up and crown feathers raised in a peak. Established birds will patrol up and down along the territory border. When competing for territories, fights to the death can occur, with males fighting males and females fighting females.

Bruce said...

Thanks for your comments Dave and Steve. We guessed it must be be territorial behaviour. But thought it was a submissive gesture not an equally matched rival.