Blackbird’s race onto the property ladder

Harry Bellew

Friday 25 May 2018

Up and down the country birds have been racing to find a mate and get on the property ladder ahead of the breeding season, and as a couple of RSPB members found in their back garden, one busy pair of blackbirds have taken it a step further

As Bill and Jo Maddams were giving their garden, in Penrith, Cumbria, a spring clean they noticed something unusual between the rungs of a ladder hanging on the wall. They say practice makes perfect but one pair of hard-working blackbirds took it to a new level by building 10 nests side by side giving themselves plenty of options. 

Bill Maddams, who first spotted the nests, said: “By leaving out a supply of food and water in our garden we’re always joined by a variety of different birds such a robins, blue tits and goldfinches. However, as I looked out my window one morning it was a busy pair of blackbird that caught my eye. Over a number of days they were furiously building something and it wasn’t until we started our garden spring clean that the true extent of their efforts was revealed.” 

This unusual behaviour comes as blackbirds, along with a few other species, fail to cope with the problem caused by the ladder, which forms identical holes, each one equally suitable for nesting. They are unable to choose between one hole and another, so in a state of confusion, will start to build nests in each. Along with blackbirds, this behaviour has also been spotted in other garden favourites such as robin, chaffinch and swallows.  

With the nesting season well and truly underway the RSPB is asking people to keep an eye out for nesting birds anywhere and everywhere, with reports of nest sites in some very unusual places on the increase. 

Most birds like to nest in trees, shrubs, hedges and nest boxes, although they could quite easily be quietly raising their family anywhere in your garden, shed or garage so extra caution is needed at this time of the year. 

And to give the youngsters a head start in life the RSPB is encouraging people to leave out a fresh supply of food and water in their outdoor space. To find out about how you can turn your garden into a haven for wildlife, visit, 

For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Harry Bellew, Media Officer: 01767 693418 /

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: UK Topic: Birds and wildlife