The blackbird (Turdus merula) is one of the best-known native songbirds . Several broods a year ensure an increasing population density. Find out here how old blackbirds get.


Blackbirds, also known as blackbirds, are native to Europe, Asia and Africa. They are about 25 centimeters tall and reach a flight span of up to 38 centimeters. This makes them, together with the fieldfare (Turdus pilaris), one of the largest species of the thrush family. They can be distinguished from most other thrush species primarily by their feather color and markings. In the males, the conspicuous beak is also a clear distinguishing feature.

  • Male: Black plumage with yellow/yellow-orange beak
  • Females: Brown to dark brown plumage with dark brown beak
  • smaller, white drawings in the plumage possible (genetic defect)

Life expectancy

The age the blackbirds reach depends mainly on the living conditions. Whether the birds live in the wild or in captivity is of central importance, because the latter minimizes risks such as predators, lack of food or poisoning immensely. Extreme weather conditions such as drought, wind or frost also affect the life expectancy of blackbirds. In addition, accidents on the road reduce the blackbird population in local areas. In addition, the birds may be hunted as vermin in some countries (e.g. in France).

This is how old blackbirds can get:

  • in freedom an average of four to five years
  • high mortality rate of over 30 percent in the first year
  • in captivity life expectancy is between six and ten years
Note: The oldest blackbird whose age is documented lived to be over 22 years old.

blackbird death

Since 2018, the life expectancy of the black thrush and all other thrush species in general has been rapidly decreasing. The reason for this is the Usutu virus, which since then has particularly affected this bird species and has killed numerous animals. In 2018 and 2019, many specimens died. Since 2020, however, the virus infection has decreased slightly and fewer deaths have been observed. Nevertheless, this had an impact on the average age, which fell by almost two years as a result.

Note: Did you know that the blackbird is a delicacy in some countries and is therefore often consumed? Due to the possible virus infestation, however, consumption is avoided during the summer months.

frequently asked Questions

During the Usutu infestation they mostly died in August/September. The virus will be active in Germany from August. Death can occur within a few days. But the winter also means that the birds age less. Icy ground will not let them turn the foliage and ground frost will make access to worms etc. impossible. They will starve if they don’t get help from humans.

Limited. Their predators include sparrowhawks, peregrine falcons and magpies. Even if they are after you, the agile and attentive blackbirds often manage to escape to a sheltered place. However, it often catches the young animals up to the age of one year. Squirrels in particular raid their nests. However, since they “produce” plenty of offspring, this changes little or nothing about how old they are on average.

Yes and no. They move around. If you find a feeding place, they like to grab it in frost and ice. However, the food is usually not enough to provide them with sufficient energy to move on to other food sources. Many die on the way from one feeding station to another. This could only be changed if numerous people put out feed outside and regularly refill it so that there is always food available.

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