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Do blackbirds migrate?

Sent in by Mrs Elsie Titley, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Most of the blackbirds that we see from day to day here in the UK will be resident birds that do not stray far from their home range. However, it is right to say that blackbirds are migratory.

The blackbirds that live in northern Europe such as the Scandinavian countries, will fly south-west to spend the winter. The colder climate further north will make food hard to come by, so these birds may appear in the UK during autumn for our less severe winter.

There have been records of resident birds making journeys across the UK on an annual basis. One such bird, nicknamed Homer, has travelled from a garden in Thetford, Norfolk where he has spent the summer, to Devon where he has wintered for at least three years.

Blackbirds will quite often change their habits and distribution over the year. We often see them in gardens raising families and feeding during the spring and summer where they can raise up to three broods. After the breeding season, birds will moult into new feathers and lie low for a few weeks as they are vulnerable at this time. After the moult, the bird's primary objective is to feed up for the winter. This results in many birds leaving their garden breeding grounds and travelling to areas where they may take advantage of the abundant natural food supplies.

This autumn has been prolific in terms of the berry and nut crops and will provide birds and other wildlife with all the nutrients they require to get them through the winter.

Hedgerows and wooded areas with berry and fruit bearing trees are the best places to see blackbirds at this time of year. The UK resident birds will start to come back to gardens later on in winter and the migratory birds will return to their breeding territories in early spring.

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