joanne seale's picture

Strange Blackbird behaviour

Hi, I'm new to this website and thought I'd post about an observation made a number of years ago.
Whilst walking along a disused railway lane in North London I passed a number of blackbirds standing by the path edge stationary with their heads pointing up and to one side. They appeared at regular intervals along the path and only very slowly hopped away as I passed. Some didnt move at all.
This happened during the early summer and has always puzzeled me as I've never seen this happen since.
Any ideas?



anonymous spotter's picture

Perhaps they'd all been -

to see Hitchcock's "The Birds", and were playing mind games with you...
Joking apart, keeping still is often a response to a predator, perhaps a sparrowhawk, if they can't get into cover quickly. They will only move then if they perceive you as a greater threat.
Sparrowhawks will often fly along hedge lines, whipping from one side to the other to try to catch something unawares.

allrounder's picture


Did they have their wings spread? It's possible they were 'sun bathing'. It's thought they spread their wings and tail feathers to help condition their plumage. Another train of thought is that by spreading themselves near ants, the ants crawl over the birds spraying formic acid which rids the birds of parasites.

Please see my Flickr photo's

anonymous spotter's picture

That's a good possibility -

They often assume quite bizarre poses when doing this, to gain maximum exposure to the sun. And they often seem to have "dozed off" in these positions.

lpearce's picture

Sun bathing Blackbird

I saw similar behaviour last July, never seen it before and assumed at first the bird was injured see

Les Pearce
Wildlife of Assynt