One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A European thrush with mainly black plumage.
Genus Turdus, subfamily Turdinae, family Muscicapidae: four species, in particular T. merula, the male of which has all-black plumage and a yellow bill
- ‘The ubiquitous starling is one of the most widespread problem species but blackbirds, partridges, robins, sparrows, thrushes, and finches are also common.’
- ‘The redwing, fieldfare and blackbirds are all involved in serious territorial swoops between trees.’
- ‘The thicker scrub and thickets of elder, hawthorn and bramble, meanwhile, provide ideal cover for nesting robins, wrens, sparrows, dunnocks, blackbirds and thrushes.’
- ‘If no berries remain, having been stripped earlier by blackbirds and mistle thrushes, they perish.’
- ‘Birds such as starlings, blackbirds, thrushes and dunnocks will use a lawn to hunt for worms and insects, so maintain good drainage and limit compaction to help them probe in its surface.’
2An American bird with a strong pointed bill. The male has black plumage that is iridescent or has patches of red or yellow.
Family Icteridae: several genera and species, including the abundant red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
- ‘Down in the bog, the first red-winged blackbirds were yodeling, and a robin sang in the evening.’
- ‘I went down towards the creek and found a huge flock of robins, grackles and red-winged blackbirds foraging.’
- ‘I pulled over at Schaar's Bluff, turned off my car and just sat and listened, beyond the bluebirds and meadowlarks you could hear tree sparrows and red-winged blackbirds.’
- ‘Unlike dowdy, brown females of the species, male blackbirds possess bright yellow-to-orange beaks and shiny black plumage.’
- ‘We waited hours for several common birds - blue jay, northern flicker, and fish crow - but missed red-winged blackbird and American robin.’
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