Sing a Song of Sixpence – An old Nursery Rhyme

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.

English settlers introduced blackbirds to New Zealand because their song  reminded them of the life they had left behind. Between 1867 and 1879 blackbirds were liberated on the three main islands. Within 60 years they had spread to the Chatham, subantarctic and Kermadec islands.

On mainland New Zealand, blackbirds are now found in most habitats up to 1,500 metres above sea level. Within 15 years of their introduction, blackbirds were becoming a pest because they damaged fruit in orchards and spread the seed of unwanted plants such as elderberry and blackberry. As well as fruit, they also feed on worms, beetles, caterpillars and other invertebrates. Blackbirds can play a useful role spreading the seed of some native plants.

Male and female birds are different colours and every year they return to the same area to raise their chicks. The dark brown female builds a nest in a fork of a shrub or hedge, which it may reuse in subsequent seasons. They lay three or four blue-green freckled eggs, and raise up to three broods a year. Male blackbirds are so intent on defending their territory in the lead-up to nesting that they sometimes attack their own reflection.

Blackbird websites