Birds are part of wildlife

Birds are part of the wildlife in Britain’s gardens which stretch over 10 million acres, that’s the size of 5 million football pitches. All these gardens, and window boxes too, contribute to a greener, healthier and more pleasant place to live.

Garden birds can be beautiful to listen to and absorbing to watch. They also do a great job of spotting and eliminating unwanted and often tiny pests in the garden. Every year, the RSPB organises the Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s biggest wildlife survey, to see what birds and other wildlife we have in our gardens. Read on for more about the 10 most common birds in our gardens in January 2017.

European robin. Birds

European robin (Erithacus rubecula). © Francis C. Franklin and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

1. House sparrow

House sparrows are the most common garden bird. They go for minimalist colour: brown, cream, grey and black. The male has a splendid grey cap and a big black bib. They love dust baths and splashing in water.

2. Starling

Starlings have an iridescent green, blue and purple sheen when seen in the right light. And what mimics! They can imitate mobile phones, car alarms, whistles, blackbirds, sparrows. Another amazing thing about starlings is how hundreds of thousands of them form huge flocks in the sky, known as murmurations, before they roost for the night. These clouds of birds twist, turn and ripple as they confuse and deter predators.

Starlings over Gretna. Birds

Starlings over Gretna. This is part of the large group of starlings at Gretna, numbering over 1 million, that congregate every evening at sunset during the winter months to perform an elaborate aerobatic display before roosting in nearby conifer plantations. © Walter Baxter and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

3. Blackbird

The male blackbird is black but the female is brown with understated markings. The male has a bright orange beak and orange ring around its eyes. Blackbirds like to eat worms and grubs, and berries when they are available from late summer through into winter. It’s often a blackbird which will warn all other birds that there is a cat on the prowl. Listen here.

4. Blue tit

These are small birds whose name comes from their blue head (tête in French). In spring, the male has a brilliant yellow breast and belly. Listen to their call here.

Eurasian blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus, Lancashire, UK. Big Garden Birdwatch. birds

Eurasian blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus, Lancashire, UK. © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0

5. Wood pigeon

The wood pigeon is the largest of our 10 most common garden birds. It is mostly grey and makes a familiar cooing sound.

6. Goldfinch

A flock of delicate goldfinches is called a charm. Like all finches, they love to eat seeds and I often see them eating the seeds from thistledown (the fluff attached to thistle seeds). They are black, white, yellow and red. Listen for their liquid, twittering song and look out for their bright red faces and yellow wing flashes.

Goldfinch. Birds

European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis). © Francis C. Franklin and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

7. Robin

Almost everyone must know the robin, brown and grey with a red breast, but you may not know that it sings all year round.

8. Great tit

The great tit has a rather smart black and white head, green back and yellow breast. Down the middle of the breast is a black band, usually broader in males than in females.

9. Chaffinch

The male chaffinch has a pink breast and blue-grey head, and the female is quieter in grey. Listen to their song here. An estimated 6.2m pairs of chaffinches breed in the UK each year.

10. Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tits are small and round birds that are mostly tail! They move restlessly as a white, pink and black flock and are very chatty as they flit along, so everyone can keep up.

Long-tailed tit. Birds

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus). © Francis C. Franklin and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

 

Time to try a garden bird recognition quiz?  Good luck!