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Blackbird

Native to much of the northern hemisphere, blackbirds are widely naturalised in New Zealand and southern Australia, but have only been detected in Queensland in recent years. They are limited to cooler, upland areas of South East Queensland (Stanthorpe to Toowoomba).

Blackbirds can spread weed species, compete with native birds, and damage orchards. Unchecked, they could become a pest in fruit-growing areas around Stanthorpe and Warwick.

The blackbird is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Turdus merula

Description

  • Bird about 25cm long from head to tail, with wingspan 34–38cm.
  • Male is black, with bright orange to yellow bill and eye ring.
  • Female has dark grey-brown upper parts and mottled, light grey-brown underparts, a paler chin and dull brownish-yellow bill.
  • Juveniles are similar to females with lighter underparts and streaked crown.
  • High, fine 'tsese' contact call, distinctive song, and harsh, screeching chatter of alarm in flight.

Habitat

  • Prefers to forage on ground where leaf litter is plentiful.
  • Found in rainforest, wet sclerophyll, mallee, riverine communities, coastal dune communities, wet mountain ash gullies and dry eucalyptus woodlands, and on offshore islands.
  • Also thrives in urban habitats such as gardens, urban bushland, parks, horticultural areas and orchards.

Distribution

  • Reported breeding in Toowoomba and Highfields in southern Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Average life expectancy is 2.4 years in wild, with oldest recorded captive bird reaching 21 years.
  • Most obvious during spring and summer when breeding males sing from vantage points.

Crops affected

  • Fruit crops including grapes, cherries and nectarines.

Affected animals

  • Native birds

Impacts

Environmental

  • Can spread weed species, including blackberry.
  • Is aggressive and competes with native species.

Economic

  • Damages a variety of soft fruits, including figs, grapes, olives, berries and stone fruit.

Natural enemies

  • Cats, foxes, predatory birds.

Legal requirements

  • The blackbird is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.
  • The blackbird is prohibited wildlife under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

Further information