Most keen bird feeders will have regular garden visits from blackbirds throughout the spring and summer, and then notice that they disappear as the climate changes and the winter draws in.

If you think this might be a sign that blackbirds migrate, read on, you might be surprised.

Garden blackbirds are territorial and stay close to their nesting site until their multiple broods have been raised successfully. As the temperatures begin to drop and food becomes more scarce, they will fly to open countryside where the food is in greater abundance. There they will stay until early spring and then make their way back to their territories.

Scandinavian birds also make their way into the UK at this time. Here the climate is slightly warmer than they are used to.

They will remain here until early spring, swelling the wintering population to 10-15 million blackbirds.

Blackbirds are mostly resident in the UK, very few birds might make their way to southern Europe in search of a warmer climate. There are so few that the number is negligible. The vast majority of the almost 6,000,000 pairs move around the UK, usually to open countryside in search of abundant crops where fruits, berries, and nuts will be in plentiful supply.

Some blackbirds mimic human behaviour and head south, to Devon and Cornwall, in search of some sun!

Northern European blackbirds head south-west looking for winter less severe than their own. When food becomes harder to come they join the UK blackbird population and take advantage of the abundance.

The only noticeable difference between them is the European birds may have duller beaks.

Blackbird movement

Blackbirds can have as many 4 broods per year which means it can be as late as August before all of the fledgelings have flown the nest.

Once the breeding season is over the blackbirds will go into hiding for a few weeks. They moult and lose their old feathers and wait for their new coat to come in. At this time they become most vulnerable to predators.

Once their new feathers have grown they will make their way from their territory to the countryside with just one ambition – they want to fatten up.

They eat berry and nut crops that are full of nutrients and carbohydrates, to supply them with slow-burning energy to survive the cold winter nights.

They look to make their homes in hedgerows, wooded areas, and fruit-bearing trees. They tend to gather in groups, there is safety in numbers to make it easier to fend off predators.

Final thoughts…

Unless you live at the top of a mountain, you will probably regularly see blackbirds. After breeding season, they move around the UK dependant on the time of the year and the availability of food.

They are gregarious little fellows that hop close to the humans that own their territory.

For the most part, UK blackbirds do not migrate but enjoy the abundant crops and the protection that the woodland supplies against the harsh winter.