I live in Battersea, with a garden with plenty of trees (too small for nesting). Last year was a bumper year for blackbirds. I was on the edge of two territories so there was a lot of competitive singing and quite a few face-to-face standoffs. In the hottest weather one bird used to sunbathe; they fed on worms, and on flying ants in season; they parked a fledgling for its first couple of days outside the nest.
This year – nothing. No songs audible anywhere, even in the distance. No sightings either.
It is not just Battersea. I have friends who live in Chelsea who have seen and heard nothing from the blackbirds this year. And in Wandsworth.
Is there some sort of population crash I haven't heard about?
I can only comment on my own urban back garden observations, and here the blackbirds have been quiet this year after likewise, a bumper year last year. I could be due to the weather being wetter and food being more abundant elsewhere, though I doubt that too much here, because we had feeders up and ground feeders for ground feeding birds, currently all removed due to a rat concern in the last few days.
I'm tempted to think they may be travelling before settling down, but only a wild guess, and I'm sure someone will correct me if that is totally wrong.
I'm not overly alarmed because there was a lot of youngsters and we seem to be getting an influx of blackbirds returning as the weather turns colder.
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I think it may be due to a poor breeding season. If you recall we had a cold spring this year. There were a lot of reports of Blue and Great Tits dying in their nest boxes because their parents couldn't get enough natural food or the cold. I think that many Blackbirds may have suffered a similar fate. I certainly didn't see many young Blackbirds in the garden. By contrast spring 2020 was warm and sunny and most birds had a good breeding season. That's my perception although there may have been other factors at work as well which I'm not aware of.
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In reply to Robbo:
Robbo said:Who invented plastic lawns?!?!
I suspect we know who ... https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_turf
2013 photos & vids here
eff37 on Flickr
Robbo said:I agree re poor breeding season being a big factor. Could well be local factors as well. Blackbirds are one of many species that struggle in high cat density areas. Young in particular get wiped out. Also, gardening changes are a factor in some areas. Either people going for low maintenance/low wildlife gardens, garden removal for extra parking or extensions, hedge removal to be replaced by fences etc. Far fewer lawns about in the town nearest me. Used to be just hedges people didn't have time for maintaining. Now seems less have time to spend 10-20mins with a mower. Who invented plastic lawns?!?!
Another scourge of the 20th century.
Another excuse for humans to become yet more distanced from their grass roots (pun intended).
Also, possibly another cause to global warming!
Scroll down the Wikipedia link to Injuries and the following sentence reads: "Artificial turf tends to retain heat from the sun and can be much hotter than natural grass with prolonged exposure to the sun. There is some evidence that periodic disinfection of artificial turf is required as pathogens are not broken down by natural processes in the same manner as natural grass."
There are many other websites that suggest concerns regarding heat retention and one or two point the finger at artificial turf (as a generalised term) as being a contributory factor to inner city warming!
But I stuck to Wikipedia as being one of the more trustworthy websites.
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