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Common Backyard Birds - UK Birds Edition

October 15, 2021

One of the easiest ways to connect with wildlife is in our backyard. However, the wildlife we encounter there varies hugely depending on where we live. In this blog, we are going to delve into the world of birds in England and explore some of the most common backyard birds in the UK.

One thing is for certain, the Brits love their birds! So much so, that UK-Based Charity the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds runs an annual “Big Garden Birdwatch” where people do exactly that –stand in their yard and record the birds that they see [1]. In the UK they often have different common names for birds, for instance, birds in the chickadee family are referred to as British tits. [2]

This blog post will go over some of the native British birds that are most commonly found in UK Gardens.

Are you interested in discovering the birds in your backyard? BirdBot offers a few tips on how to identify and learn about those species in your community!

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House Sparrow 

The house sparrow has been the most common British bird found in people's gardens for 18 years running! [1] Despite this, the house sparrow is in serious decline in some parts of Britain [3]. House sparrows usually feed on the ground in large groups and have a diverse diet – they will eat just about anything! [4] Fun fact: a house sparrow’s beak is a yellow-brown color in winter and turns black in the summer [3].

Brown and White Bird on Brown Tree Branch
House Sparrow on a branch

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Blue Tit

Blue tits are small, colorful UK birds. They often tend to flock in groups in the winter, sometimes joined by other species of tits, as they search for food. Their natural diet consists of insects, but they'll happily eat from bird feeders, especially if they contain nuts and sunflower seeds. [3]

Related: How To Start Birding [Beginner's Guide & Tips]

Yellow and White Bird
Blue Tit chillin'

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European Starling

Starlings are black with purple undertones, and they tend to travel in flocks. Being noisy and social species makes them hard to miss. [3]

Free stock photo of animal, avian, beak
European Starling

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Blackbird

Male blackbirds live up to their name, but the females are mainly brown. They are often found foraging on the ground looking for find worms. They’ll enjoy food left out for them on bird tables or the ground. [3]

Related: How Do Birds Provide Ecosystems Services?

Photo of Perched Common Blackbird
Common Blackbird

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Woodpigeon

Woodpigeons are the UK’s most common pigeon. The sound of them cooing sound and the clatter of their wings when they fly is very recognizable in British yards [3].

Woodpigeon Pigeon Side View - Free photo on Pixabay
Common Woodpigeon

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European Robin

Robins are very easy to spot – they tend to stand tall and proud to sing and can be heard singing throughout most of the year. Robins are symbolic of Christmas, and can be found in most gardens as well as many Christmas cards! [3]

Fun fact: A poll of the British public voted the robin the unofficial bird of the UK! They won 34% of the vote. [5]

Related: How To Educate and Promote Environmental Awareness in 2021

Shallow Focus Photography of Gray and Orange Bird
European Robin

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Great Tit

Great tits are the largest of the UK tit family. During the winter, great tits join other breeds of tit and form a flock [3]. In the wild greattits eat mainly insects but they’re common visitors to gardens and will enjoy tucking into nuts, sunflower hearts, and seed mixes. [4]

Great tit - Wikipedia
Great Tit

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European Goldfinch

Goldfinches have a vibrant red face and yellow wings. Their calls sound like a peaceful twittering and increasingly goldfinches are visiting UK garden feeders [3].

Fun fact: Goldfinches are particularly fond of Niger seeds in bird feeders!

Related: Bird ID Skills: Field Marks That Every Bird Watcher Should Know

European goldfinch - Wikipedia
European Goldfinch

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Magpie

Magpies are noisy and very distinguishable by their monochrome plumage. Black and white from a distance, but if you get close you will notice a purple-green hue to their dark feathers [3]. Magpies are opportunistic feeders and will sometimes eat the eggs and chicks of other birds. [4]

Eurasian magpie - Wikipedia
Eurasian magpie

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Long-tailed tit

The long-tailed tits are round, fluffy, and pinkish birds that are very well-loved. They are gregarious and are usually found in flocks or twenty or more. As the name suggests, they have a large tail that exceeds the size of their body [3]. Long-tailed tits often feed in their flocks and will happily feed on birdfeeders and suet blocks [4].

Long-tailed tit - Wikipedia
Long-tailed Tit

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Changes in British Garden Birds

Blackbirds and robins are increasingly spotted in people's gardens, but finch numbers have continued to fall, with greenfinches and chaffinches particularly hard hit. This is possibly due to trichomonosis, a disease that emerged in Britain in 2005 and has led to a significant decline in the numbers of greenfinches and chaffinches [6] [7].

Do you love seeing those birds in the forests or in your backyard? You can discover more about these distinctive species with help from BirdBot!

References

[1] RSPB, "Bird Garden Birdwatch Results," 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/results/

[2] K. St. John, "Five Kinds of Chickadees," 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org/2017/07/03/five-kinds-of-chickadees/

[3] Love The Garden, "19 common British birds you can find in your garden," 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en/article/19-common-british-birds-you-can-find-your-garden

[4] Bird Spot, "British Garden Birds," 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.birdspot.co.uk/british-garden-birds

[5] B. Lawson, R. Robinson, A. Neimanis, K. Handeland, M. Isomursu, E. Agren, I. Hamnes, K. Tyler, J. Chantrey, L. Hughes, T. Pennycott, V. Simpson, S. John, K. Peck, M. Toms, M. Bennett, J. Kirkwood and A. Cunningham, "Evidence of Spread of the Emerging Infectious Disease, Finch Trichomonosis, by Migrating birds," Ecohealth Volume, vol. 8, p. 143–153, 2011.

[6] B. Lawson, R. A. Robert, K. M. Colvile, K. M. Peck, J. Chantrey, T. W. Pennycott, V. R. Simpson, M. P. Toms and A. A. Cunningham, "The emergence and spread of finch trichomonosis in the British Isles," Philosphical Transactions of the Royal Society B, p. 2852–2863, 2012.