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Psycho blackbird

We have a resident blackbird who has grown accustomed to my wife and I to the extent that he will hop around our feet looking for worms. He almost, but not quite, takes mealworms from my wife's hands. He hops right up, peers at the worms with intent, but is not quite confident enough to take them yet.

Problem is,he now seems to be auditioning for a part as an extra in a Hitchcock movie. He's started to fly past our heads, but so close we often have to duck to avoid him. On one occasion I swear I could feel his feathers against my cheek. It's not that he aims for our heads intentionally, but he does seem to enjoy the challenge associated with seemingly impossible manoeuvres, for example the few inches of space between the top of our heads and the bottom of the archway to our garden. 

It should be noted that Mrs Blackbird is much more sensible and careful. She's not as comfortable in close proximity and flies away from us as opposed to towards us.

Do we need to be less 'friendly' to him to stop this? Are we victims of our own willingness to allow him to grow accustomed to our presence?



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,122

    It's a difficult line to tread isn't it?  

    For the last couple of years we fed a pair of robins from our hands and they became delightfully tame, coming to the house whenever they saw us through the windows.  However after a while they became so bold that if we left the door to the garden open the cock robin would come indoors, right into the sitting room, sit on the back of the rocking chair and shout for food ........ we were really worried that if something startled him he would fly about the room in a panic and hurt himself so this spring we've continued to provide the live mealworms but from dishes placed in the garden away from the door, rather than from our hands .  

    It means that the starlings also help themselves so we put the mealworms out little and often otherwise we'd be buying new supplies every week.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • This is very interesting thread and a truly remarkable experience shared by Dove.

    Blackbirds are mostly ground-feeders. At this time of year they will be raising multiple broods of chicks one after another and because of the unusually spring dry periods  in many parts of the country, they could be desperate to feed the ever-hungry mouths of a brood of chicks or fledglings that aren't able to fly or lack the ability or experience to find sufficient food for themselves.

    Because they feed their chicks mostly on protein-rich food such as earthworms, spiders, cateplillars, snails and insects, they may not be able to find enough of the required food in their 'territory' to feed their offspring, especially if other bird species are targeting the same creatures.

    Blackbirds seem to prefer earthworms to any other food (at least around here). While they're incredibly adept at finding them, when the soil is too hard near the surface, some seem to lose their fear of humans through desperation of the unavailability of this primary food source. They'll come unusually close when you're digging the soil, cutting down plants and even after mowing in the hope to find worms, woodlice, snails, spiders etc hiding somewehere.

    Once the breeding season is over and with berries available ... and without a load of extra mouths to feed, they'll probably go back to their normal routine and the unusual behaviour will stop - unless next spring or summer is dry image

  • ForestedgeForestedge Posts: 3,650

    I can't answer your query, but have noticed when working on my allotment, blackbirds coming right up to where I am working with a beak full of of wriggly creatures looking for more.  They are behaving just like we would expect robins to behave.  They are obviously not used to my constant presence as the plots can be unworked for several days, but they do not seem to be worried by me being there.

  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481

    Thanks Dave, that's a really informative read, and answers quite a lot. Just today, my wife said she saw the blackbird 'lying in wait' whilst she weeded a flower bed. She said she had to 'keep an eye on it, in case it swooped'. It had most probably recognised human activity (weeding, digging, mowing) as the precursor to the availavilify of food.

  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481

    Hi Forestedge. It's a pattern I recognise. Our blackbird has an uncanny ability to hold an impossible number of worms in his mouth at the same time and will come within inches of my spade when I'm digging. 

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