Blackbirds and Starlings

NB: New Zealand’s blackbird species is the Common Blackbird, also known as the Eurasian Blackbird. Blackbirds in your area may differ. Blackbirds and starlings were both introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s. They like it here.

Know your birds. The starling and male-blackbird (female blackbirds are brown), at first glance, appear strikingly similar, but they are not birds of a feather. Here are some handy visual tips to distinguish our two feathered friends.

Tip 1: The blackbird has a much longer tail. This is easily seen in profile or from above.

Tip 2: Blackbirds hop along the ground in a dignified manner with both feet together. Starlings strut about as if they are the cock-of-the-walk.

Tip 3: In bright sunlight, the starling’s plumage appears irridescent green, whereas the blackbird’s plumage is a matte black, with a hint of blue.

Bonus Tip: Any bird lying motionless on its back with its legs sticking up in the air is almost-certainly dead. Should this fault be observed, please consult the user-manual for your particular model of bird, or seek advice from your nearest bird-trader.

Photo credit: Charlesjsharp • CC BY-SA 3.0


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