The Smaller British Birds

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Their tuneful voices, along with their cheeky attitudes and bright red breast, have endeared robins to the British public. Robins are often associated with Christmas time — believed to be because scarlet-jacketed postmen used to deliver Christmas cards, and the similarly-coloured robin redbreast became linked to the tradition.

This dove is mainly buff coloured with a thin, black half collar, and a long, white tail with a black base. Collared doves originally came from southern Asia and spread naturally from there. The species was first recorded in Britain in and has since become a common UK garden bird. No wonder dunnocks are often overlooked — not only are they small, brown and grey with a slender beak, but they also like to creep around under bushes in a mouse-like way searching for their insect and spider prey.

This suits the female, as she might get more help rearing her chicks.

Top 20 British birds: a guide to what to spot in your garden

Pica pica From a distance, the magpie appears black and white, although close up a subtle blue and green sheen can be seen. Magpies are often seen in pairs or small groups. It is a noisy bird with a harsh, chattering call. Magpies are jacks-of-all-trades — scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers; their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. Only during the spring, when feeding its young, does it became a predator, raiding the nests of songbirds for eggs and young.

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Magpies are surrounded by superstition, including versions of the poem that opens: Jackdaws are the smallest members of the crow family. At first a jackdaw may appear to be all black, however it is actually a dark grey colour. You can tell them apart from the other mainly black ravens, rooks and crows by the distinctive grey patch on the back of their necks. Their pale, blue eyes are also noticeable. Jackdaws often join up with rooks and carrion crows in autumn and winter to roost together.

Looking like a ball on a stick, long-tailed tits are easily recognised with their distinctive colourings, small body and a long tail, which can be up to 9cm in length. Both males and females are black, white and pale pink, with distinctive white crowns. They love to hang from feeders full of fat balls.

The chaffinch is a familiar sight in many UK gardens.

2. Collared Dove

The male has a smart blue-grey hood and a pink face and breast. The female is brown and buff, and both have black and white markings on their wings. These finches are woodland birds but have adapted to live wherever there are trees or hedges. Its twittering and wheezing song and splash of yellow and green as it flies make this finch a truly colourful character. Although quite sociable, they can squabble with other birds at the table.

Greenfinches eat nuts and seeds mainly, and enjoy sunflower seeds and hearts, peanuts and nyjer seed in particular. While it may not be as colourful as some of its relatives, coal tits have a characteristic head pattern, with a grey back, white cheeks and a black bib and cap. In the middle of this black cap is a rectangular white patch, making it one species you can identify from a back view. A regular visitor to peanut feeders, they enjoy black sunflower seeds and hearts.

They will take and store food for later, hiding it for when supplies are scarce.


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Turdus philomelos These were once very familiar garden birds with brown backs and spotted fronts, hopping around the lawn in search of food but are now in serious decline. They also have a distinctive way of singing, repeating notes or phrases three or four times. The wren is a tiny brown bird, usually seen foraging at the corners or the garden, between paving slabs for tiny spiders and insects.

It is dumpy, almost rounded, with a fine bill, quite long legs and toes, very short round wings and a short, narrow tail. It has a remarkably loud voice. Wrens roost together as there is safety in numbers, but also to conserve heat. The record number seen roosting together in one box is The all-black carrion crow is one of the cleverest, most adaptable of our birds. They are fairly solitary, usually found alone or in pairs, although they may form occasional flocks. Carrion crows will come to gardens for food and although often cautious initially, they soon learn when it is safe, and will return repeatedly to take advantage of whatever is on offer.

Carrion crows have also worked out how to eat shellfish by dropping them from a height to break their shells. This medium-sized to large finch is round in shape with a large, robust bill. Males and females have a black cap that extends forward around the bill, together with a grey back, black wings, black tail and white rump. The underparts of the adult male are bright pinkish-red while those of the female are pinkish-grey.

They feed greedily on the buds of various trees in spring. Males live up to their name but, confusingly, females are brown, often with spots and streaks on their breasts. The bright orange-yellow beak and eye-ring make adult male blackbirds one of the most striking birds. Where to see them Nesting in holes in trees and buildings and very often in nest boxes. Goldcrest These are our smallest birds, distinguished by the golden crest on their crown…. Already a subscriber or registered access user?

Identify Birds - Garden Bird Identification

We have noticed that there is an issue with your subscription billing details. Please update your billing details here. Please update your billing information. The subscription details associated with this account need to be updated. Please update your billing details here to continue enjoying your subscription. A fluffy and pinkish bird, the Long-Tailed Tit is a gregarious bird that can usually be found in flocks or twenty of so.

As the name gives away, this particular breed has a large tale that exceed the size of its body.

20 birds to spot in your garden

The Greenfinch is another colourful bird that displays flashes of green and yellow as it flies. They can often be found in village gardens all year round as they commonly enjoy the countryside. You can attract these wonderful birds with most bird seeds and insects but sunflower seeds are a real favourite. How to attract birds to your garden.

The beauty of birds

Skip to main content. By Hannah Gransden, Seasonal Pro. Robin The robin is arguably one of the easiest birds to spot — its bright red chest giving away its identity to all that it meets. Collared Dove Pale, pink-grey to brown in colour, collared doves sport a distinctive black collar around their necks which give them their name and identify them for garden spotting.

Tiny 'flying lollipop' bird now common in British gardens

Goldfinch The goldfinch is a colourful British garden bird, with its vibrant red face and yellow wing. Blackbird Their name may be a giveaway to their aesthetics, however this only really applies to the males. Starling Starlings look black when spotted from afar, but get a look up close and you will notice their purple undertones. Scotland's Bird Club 9. Blue Tit The Blue Tit is a colourful specie, boasting varieties of blues, yellows and greens.

Magpie A unique bird, the Magpie is a noisy bird , distinguishable by its monochrome plumage and unique long tail. Carrion Crows This bird is all black in appearance and can act clever and fearless. Jay The Jay is the most colourful member of the crow family and it can be seen all over the UK, except for far northern regions. Wren Small in size, the wren is a slim brown bird that is roundish in shape with a fine tail which can be vertical.

Goldcrest The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in the UK. Dunnock Another small bird, the Dunnock is brownish grey in colour and quiet in nature. Garden Bird Watching Coal Tits The Coal Tit is more grey-black than its more colourful relatives. Greenfinch The Greenfinch is another colourful bird that displays flashes of green and yellow as it flies.

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