Blackbirds get up earlier than other birds

This video is called Birds in my backyard: blackbird.

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Early blackbirds catch worms before winged rivals, study finds

New ornithological study shows when different bird species wake each morning

By Jasper Copping

7:30AM GMT 02 Feb 2014

If you have ever wondered which particularly noisy bird wakes you each morning with its unrelentingly cheerful song, then new research may provide you with clues as to the culprit.

A project by the British Trust for Ornithology is studying the varying times at which different species became active up each day.

It has found that the blackbird is the earliest riser, and usually starts foraging just over ten minutes after daybreak. It is swiftly followed, within another ten minutes, by the robin and blue tit, with others, such as the dunnock, fieldfare, magpie and song thrush, within a few minutes more. Within 50 minutes of sunrise, dozens of species are awake and active.

The ongoing study is intended to investigate the impact of factors such as heat and light pollution on the birds’ morning habits, and to analyse regional differences, to see if the creatures surface later in some parts of the country to others.

Although light pollution – which might be expected to cause birds to rise earlier – is greatest in towns and cities, scientists believe the creatures actually become active later in the urban areas. They believe this is because they tend to be warmer, meaning the birds lose less energy overnight, so have a less urgent need to find food in the morning.

Clare Simm, the BTO official who organised the survey, said: “We will be looking at the relationship between heat and light pollution, because while one may be thought to delay the birds’ activity, the other is thought to accelerate it.”

The Early Bird study involved thousands of volunteers monitoring their gardens from daybreak on one morning last month. They were required to record the first ten species to arrive at their bird table, from the moment when they were able to see it.

They also had to provide details of all lighting – such as the numbers and brightness of street lighting – within 165ft of their bird table, to allow the researchers to establish what impact the light had on when birds were arriving.

Of the top ten earliest risers, most are rather vocal morning singers, including the blackbird, the robin, the dunnock, the song thrush and the great tit. Others like the magpie and carrion crow, while not great singers, can be very vociferous at that time in the morning.

However, those who do not enjoy being woken by bird song can take some comfort from the research. Some of the noisiest singers, such as the mistle thrush, the jackdaw, the house sparrow and the starling, do not become active until more than half an hour after daybreak.

The appearance of birds such as blackbirds and robins ahead of other species is put down to the fact they have relatively large eyes, in comparison to their size. This allows them to see better in the dawn light. Many of the volunteers reported hearing these two birds, even before daylight, apparently woken by light pollution.

In total, 3,719 records were submitted to the researchers, who are still analysing the data to establish regional trends.

Forty two species were observed, taking an average of 32 minutes after first light to arrive at the bird table. Among the last to arrive were the collared dove and sparrowhawk.

The results:

Blackbird, on average arrives 11 minutes after daybreak

Robin, 16 minutes

Blue tit, 21 minutes

Dunnock, 24 minutes

Fieldfare, 24 minutes

Magpie, 25 minutes

Song thrush, 26 minutes

Carrion crow, 26 minutes

Great tit, 28 minutes

Coal tit, 29 minutes

Blackcap, 29 minutes

Tree sparrow, 29 minutes

Chaffinch, 29 minutes

Reed Bunting, 30 minutes

Rook, 31 minutes

House sparrow, 31 minutes

Siskin, 31 minutes

Jackdaw, 34 minutes

Wren, 34 minutes

Pied/white wagtail, 34 minutes

Jay, 34 minutes

Willow tit, 34 minutes

Long-tailed tit, 34 minutes

Black-headed gull, 36 minutes

Goldfinch, 36 minutes

Redwing, 36 minutes

Yellowhammer, 37 minutes

Brambling, 38 minutes

Bullfinch, 39 minutes

Wood pigeon, 40 minutes

Great spotted woodpecker, 40 minutes

Mistle thrush, 40 minutes

Starling, 40 minutes

Feral pigeon, 40 minutes

Marsh tit, 41 minutes

Nuthatch, 42 minutes

Treecreeper, 43 minutes

Goldcrest, 43 minutes

Collared dove, 44 minutes

Greenfinch, 44 minutes

Sparrowhawk, 48 minutes

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21 thoughts on “Blackbirds get up earlier than other birds

  1. Red raspberries were also pretty poor from my vantage point, and also pretty small in size and with few sections on each berry. Blackberries were pretty good, especially in some of the newer patches, but some of my old patches that I like to frequent have gone by the wayside. The low bunchberry, growing in places where it can get some light (like along my driveway), was very productive. It’s not a favorite with many birds, but partridges, robins and squirrels do forage casually for the bright berries amidst the contrasting green leaves.


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