PROFILES TOP 20 GARDEN BIRDS
From the RSPB
Starlings are noisy and aggressive
birds usually seen foraging in small flocks. At a distance, starlings
look black, but close up you can see they have green and purple,
glossy feathers, covered in white and buff spots. Starlings feed
on scraps, seeds and from nut feeders; they also probe into lawns
for worms and grubs. In winter, migrant starlings from northern
Europe join the resident birds.
These are often seen in small flocks.
Males have a grey crown, black bib, reddish-brown back streaked
with black, and grey breast and belly, while females have brown,
streaky backs and are buff below. They feed on seeds, grains and
scraps on the ground and on bird tables. House sparrows also feed
from nut feeders. House sparrows are sedentary, rarely moving
more than two kilometres from their birthplace.
An agile bird, the blue tit is most
often seen feeding on bird feeders. It is a small, sky blue and
yellow bird with white cheeks and a dark eye stripe. Blue tits
will feed on seeds and scraps from bird tables and the ground.
In winter, family flocks of blue tits are joined by great tits,
long-tailed tits and other woodland species, as they search for
The male blackbird is black with a
bright yellow bill, while the female is brown with a mottled breast.
Blackbirds have a long tail and often hop along the ground with
their tail up. They feed on berries, scraps and apples, and search
for worms on the lawn. In winter, migrant blackbirds from northern
Europe join the resident birds.
Usually seen feeding on the ground,
both male and female chaffinches have black and white wings, and
a green rump. The male has a pinky face and breast and a blue
crown, while the female is a sandy brown. They feed on seeds and
grain, mainly on the ground. In winter, migrant chaffinches from
Scandinavia and Northern Europe join the resident birds.
The male is a green bird with yellow
patches on the wings, a forked tail and a stout beak. The female
is browner and may look like a female house sparrow until she
flies and shows off the yellow in her tail and wings. Greenfinches
feed on seeds and grain on the ground and on bird tables. They
also feed from nut feeders.
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
from there to the extreme south-east of Europe. In the 1930s,
they began a major expansion to the north and west. The species
was first recorded in Britain in 1953 and has since become a common
garden bird throughout Great Britain and Ireland. They feed on
seeds and scraps, both on the ground and on bird tables.
Bigger than the blue tit, the great
tit has a black and white head, bright yellow breast with a bold,
black stripe running down it, and a greenback. The black breast
stripe is wider on the male. They feed on seeds and scraps on
the ground, on bird tables and from nut feeders. In winter, family
flocks of great tits are joined by blue tits, long-tailed tits
and other woodland species as they search for food.
With its bright, orange-red breast,
brown back and dumpy shape, the robin is a familiar garden bird.
Robins are the only garden birds to sing throughout the winter,
with both males and females holding winter territories. It is
unusual to see more than two birds at a time, except in very cold
weather. They feed on seeds, scraps, berries and insects, both
on the ground and on the bird table. Some robins migrate from
Europe to the UK.
Woodpigeons are the largest of the
pigeon family. They have a small, round, grey head, greyish back,
tail and wings with a pink breast and white neck patch. In flight
they have distinctive white wing patches and the tail has a dark
band at the end. Their call is a cooing sound. Woodpigeons feed
on grain, seeds and scraps and on berries and buds.
A small, easily overlooked bird, the
dunnock creeps around under bushes in a mouse-like way. It has
a brown back with black markings and a grey face and breast. It
has a slender beak, which it uses to catch its insect and spider
food. Dunnocks are sedentary, rarely moving more than one kilometre
from their birthplace.
This large, black and white bird with
along tail is often seen in pairs or small groups. It is a noisy
bird with a harsh, chattering call. It feeds on a variety of foods,
including scraps, and is aggressive towards other birds. In winter,
magpies flock together in small groups. They are sedentary and
rarely move more than one kilometre from their birthplace.
An agile and active, small, olive-brown
tit, with a black crown, white cheeks and a white patch on the
back of the head. They feed on the ground on seeds, scraps and
insects, and visit peanut feeders. Coal tits often hide food.
They may join flocks of other tit species.
A tiny, very active, dumpy bird, with
a thin beak and a raised tail. The wren is a reddish brown colour
with some darker barring on the wings and belly. It has a very
loud song for such a tiny bird: it uses this to help it hold a
territory, sometimes even in winter. It feeds on insects and spiders.
The song thrush has a brown head, back
and tail, with pale under parts with dark brown, streaky spots.
It feeds on worms, berries and scraps, and also on snails, which
it smashes on stones. Although it is still a common garden bird,
its numbers are declining at an alarming rate.
A small black, white and pink tit with
a long tail. Long-tailed tits move around in small flocks, calling
constantly: they are often seen with blue and great tits. Long-tailed
tits feed on insects, but are increasingly visiting garden bird
tables and nut feeders in winter, when insects are hard to find.
Smaller than a rook or a crow, the
jackdaw is a blackish bird with a grey head, blackcap and white
eyes. It has a distinctive 'jack jack call'. It feeds on mini
beasts and scraps.
A small, dainty finch with a red, white
and black face, brown body, black wings with abroad yellow wing
band, and black tail. Goldfinches often feed in small flocks,
and their twittering call and black and yellow wings draw attention
to them. They are seed-eaters that feed on the ground, on seed
heads of garden plants and on seed-filled birdfeeders. They occasionally
feed from nut feeders. In very cold weather, most goldfinches
migrate in a south-westerly direction, to winter in France and
A large, black bird with a bare, white
face and a white beak. Rooks are often seen in flocks. They roost
at night in tall trees, with jackdaws and crows. Rooks feed on
worms and other minibeasts living in the soil, but will take scraps
from gardens. They are often very wary in gardens, snatching scraps
and carrying them off to a nearby tree or rooftop to eat.
Also known as town pigeons, feral pigeons
are descended from rock doves, which were domesticated for food.
Feral pigeons are usually dark grey, with some green or purple
sheen on the neck, and have orange eyes and pink feet. There is
a great deal of variation in their plumage; with many feral pigeons
being mainly brown or grey and white. They feed on scraps and
seeds, both on the ground and on bird tables. They may be very