Blackbird in Essex, England
© Bill Coster/Alam
Why are blackbirds tied to winter?. Blackbird in Essex, United Kingdom
The end of January in the Northern Hemisphere can be quite cold, as it is near the midpoint of winter. According to Italian folklore, the last three days of January are the coldest of the year and are referred to as the ‘days of the blackbird’. In case these days are not very cold, it might mean that Spring will come later. This tradition is similar to others based on moon phases and the exit of the bear from its den as methods to predict the weather a few days after the day of Merla, or Candlemas.
One local legend gives a fun take on how blackbirds got their dark feathers: To protect her young chicks from the cold Northern Italian winter, a mother bird with white feathers built her nest in a chimney. After her once-white chicks emerged, their feathers had turned black from the chimney's soot, and from that day on, all such birds were born as blackbirds.