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24 September 2014
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Know your birds
Blackbird with apple.
Don't know what this bird is? Then you need to see this page!
It's time to dust off the binocs and bird books. Before you set off, don't forget to cast your eye over our exclusive guide!
WATCH and LISTEN
audio Starling
House Sparrow

Blackbird
Robin
BBC download guide
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SEE ALSO

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Find out more about this annual event

BBC Nature - Birds
The official BBC website for our feathered friends

WEB LINKS

RSPB Birdwatch site
Official site for the campaign from the RSPB

Northumberland Wildlife Trust

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
FACTS

No garden? Fasten a feeder to a window with suction cups – brings the birds even closer. Don’t throw away bruised apples and pears – put them out for the birds.

Making a fruit Christmas cake? Spare a few raisins, sultanas and currants for birds.

Birds need water for drinking and bathing – buy a bird bath or use a shallow dish or inverted metal dustbin lid.

Find a place for a garden compost heap – a great way to recycle the nutrients in the garden and provide a frost-free area where birds can feed.

Hard cheese? Don’t bin it – crumble it in the garden for wrens to enjoy. Put out any leftovers of cooked rice and spaghetti and any uncooked pastry – they’re all rich in starch and will keep garden birds occupied!

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BIRD PROFILES
Blackbird Blackbird
"Highly territorial..."
Blue Tit Blue Tit
"Agile birds which forage in the canopy..."
 
Chaffinch Chaffinch
"Usually search for food on the ground..."
Collared Dove Collared Dove
"First came to Britain in 1953..."
 
Great Tit Great Tit
"Live in family groups for a short time..."
Greenfinch Greenfinch
"
Sociable and often found in small flocks..."
 
Robin Robin
"It is unusual to see two robins together"
Song Thrush Song Thrush
"Known to smash snails against rocks"
 
Starling Starling
"Noisy and aggressive birds..."
Wren Wren
"Tiny, dumpy, secretive bird"
 
House Sparrow House Sparrow
"Sparrows are sociable and outgoing..."
Wood Pidgeon Wood Pigeon
"Many farmers consider them to be pests"
 
Dunnock Dunnock
"Creeps around under bushes like a mouse
"
     

Starling Starling
audio Hear the Starling's call
Notes Starlings are noisy and aggressive birds usually seen foraging in small flocks. Starlings are one of the most familiar birds in city areas, gathering in large numbers (sometimes millions) to feed and to roost in buildings or trees.
Appearance At a distance they look black, but on closer examination they have green and purple glossy feathers covered in white spots.
Food Starlings feed on scraps, seeds and from nut feeders; they also probe into lawns for worms and grubs.
Migration In winter, migrant Starlings from northern Europe join the resident birds.
Call Starlings are highly vocal and both males and females sing. Their song is a chattering, whistling chorus, but they have many other calls and often mimic other birds and sounds.

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House Sparrow House sparrow
audio House sparrow's call
Notes Sparrows are sociable and outgoing, and are often found in small flocks. Communal roosts are important for them. They are typically found living near humans - city centres, parks, gardens, farms and fields.
Appearance Males have a grey crown, black bib and reddish-brown back streaked with black. The breast and belly is grey. Females have brown streaky backs and are buff below.
Food They feed on seeds, grains and scraps on the ground and on bird tables. House sparrows also feed from nut feeders.
Migration House Sparrows are sedentary, rarely moving two kilometres from their birthplace
Call They emit a series of chirps and twitters, strung together as a rudimentary song.

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Blue Tit Blue Tit
Notes Agile birds, Blue Tits forage for food in the tree canopy, although they do spend some time on the ground searching for food, especially in the winter.
Males are generally monogamous although some have been recorded breeding with two females.
Appearance Small, sky blue and yellow with white cheeks and a dark eye stripe. Blue Tits will feed on seeds and scraps on bird tables and the ground.
Food The Blue Tit is often seen feeding on bird feeders.
Migration In winter, family flocks of Blue Tits are joined by Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits and other woodland species as they search for food.
Call Blue Tits have a range of calls, including 'seeseedu' and 'cherrrr-errr-err', but the song is a cheerful 'tsee-tsee-tsu-tsuhuhu'.

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Blackbird Blackbird
audioHear the Blackbird's call
Notes Blackbirds have a long tail and often hop along the ground with their tail up. They spend a lot of time on the ground searching for food, but they sing from a prominent perch. They are highly territorial during the breeding season.
Appearance The male Blackbird has a bright yellow bill, while the female is brown with a mottled breast.
Food They feed on berries, scraps and apples, and search for worms on the lawn.
Migration In winter, migrant Blackbirds from northern europe join the resident birds.
Call Blackbirds are noisy birds, especially during roosting time when they emit a loud 'dik-dik-dik'. They have a loud and pleasing warbling flute-like song and a noisy chatter when disturbed.

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Chaffinch Chaffinch
Notes Chaffinches usually search for food on the ground but also in trees. They fly in an undulating manner.
Appearance 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.
Food Seeds and grain.
Migration In winter, migrant Chaffinches from Scandinavia and Northern Europe join the resident birds.
Call The commonest call-note is a metallic 'pink, pink' and the cheerful song varies in dialect according to its region.

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Greenfinch Greenfinch
Notes Sociable and often found in small flocks. They roost communally in hedgerows.
Appearance 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.
Food Greenfinches feed on seeds and grain on the ground and on bird tables. They also feed from nut feeders.
Migration In winter, family flocks of similar similar species such as Yellowhammers and Sparrows search for food.
Call Greenfinches emit bell-like trills and chirrups, as well as a nasal 'tswee' and 'chi-chi-chi-chit' flight call.

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Robin Robin
audio
Hear the Robin's call
Notes It is unusual to see more than two Robins at a time, except in very cold weather. Although shy birds over much of their range, Robins have learnt to make use of gardeners in Britain and watch the owners as they dig up their gardens. Robins are notoriously aggressive towards each other. They will even attack a bundle of red feathers or their own reflection, mistaking it for another individual.
Appearance With its bright, orange-red breast, brown back and dumpy shape, the robin is a familiar garden bird.
Food They feed on seeds, scraps, berries and insects, both on the ground and on the bird table.
Migration Some Robins migrate from Europe to the UK.
Call Robins have a rich and warbling song, sometimes described as mournful in winter but cheerful in spring. Other calls include a thin 'seee' and a hard 'tic-tic-tic'

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Great Tit Great Tit
Notes Great Tits live in family groups for a short time after breeding, and then join mixed flocks of other species in the late summer and through to spring.
Appearance Bigger than the Blue Tit, the great tit has a black and white head, bright yellow breast with a bold, black strip running down it, and a green back. The black breast stripe is wider on the male.
Food They feed on seeds and scraps on the ground, on bird tables and from nut feeders.
Migration In winter, family flocks of great tits are joined by Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits and other woodland species as they search for food.
Call Great Tits have a wide range of loud calls (more than 80 have been recorded), including a distinctive 'teacher, teacher' song.

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Collared Dove Collared Dove
Notes 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.
Appearance This dove is mainly duff coloured with a thin, black half-collar and a long, white tail with a black base.
Food They feed on seeds and scraps, both on the ground and on bird tables.
Call The call is a monotonous 'coo-COO-cUK'.

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Wood Pidgeon Wood Pigeon
Notes Wood Pigeons are the largest of the pigeon family. Many farmers consider wood pigeons to be pests due to their habit of raiding crops. The birds often feed in large flocks where abundant food is available.
Appearance 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.
Food Wood Pigeons feed on grain, seeds and scraps and on berries and buds.
Call Their song sounds like 'coo-coo-coo, coo-coo'.

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Dunnock Dunnock
Notes A small, easily overlooked bird, the dunnock creeps around under bushes in a mouse-like way.
Appearance 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.
Food Insects and spiders
Migration Dunnocks are sedentary, rarely moving more than one kilometre from their birthplace
Call A piercing peep, song is a high, pleasant warble.

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Wren Wren
Notes Tiny, dumpy, secretive bird that searches for food under bushes or near the ground.
Appearance Mostly rusty-brown with pale bars, and a short, cocked tail.
Food Worms and grubs, but occaisionally feeds from bird tables.
Migration Like Dunnocks, Wrens are sedentary.
Call A gurgling, bubbling, exuberant song and kit-kit.

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Song Thrush Song Thrush
Notes The Song Thrush is known to smash snails against rocks in order to remove their shells. The rocks are called "snail anvils" by birdwatchers.
Appearance Smaller than a Blackbird, with brown upperparts and a spotted breast.
Food Their favourite food is a mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese and dried fruit. But as soon as an aggressive blackbird sweeps into position the ever-timid thrush disappears.
Migration Although most song thrushes stay here throughout the year, some migrate south for the winter, to be temporarily replaced by arrivals from Northern Europe.
Call Loud clear song characterised by repetition of short phrases.

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