The 43 MOST Common Birds Found in Russia! (2023)
Are you trying to identify a bird found in Russia?
This can be an immense challenge because of the sheer number of species. Did you know there have been 808 species recorded here?
As you can imagine, there was no way to include this many birds in the below article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed in gardens, backyards, and feeding stations.
Today, you will learn about 43 COMMON types of birds in Russia!
#1. Common Chaffinch
- Fringilla coelebs
- Males are rust-colored, with green on the upper back. They have a gray cap that curls around the back of their head, surrounding the earhole, and looks like a shirt collar.
- Females are duller with a greenish-brown head, white tail feathers, and a green posterior.
- Both sexes have bright white stripes on their wings.
Common Chaffinches are incredibly common, mostly because they are so adaptable. Look for this small songbird in Russia in many habitats, such as forests, parks, and neighborhoods with lots of tree cover.
Chaffinches are incredibly common at bird feeders. They are most often seen on the ground cleaning up the seed that has fallen from above, with sunflower hearts being their favorite. These birds can become so tame in backyards that they flutter around people as they come outside, expecting to be fed or the feeders refilled!
Their song is so beautiful that a group of these birds is known as a “Charm!” Their songs usually contain a rattling series of notes that start high and lower toward the end.
#2. Common Wood Pigeon
- Columba palumbus
- Slate gray overall coloring with a faint blue cast on the back.
- Adults have a white flash on the sides of the neck, which is missing in juveniles.
- The chest is rosy, and there is a black ring at the base of the tail.
This species is the largest pigeon found in Russia! Look for Common Wood Pigeons in areas with plenty of trees, where they spend most of their time. However, they prefer to nest on flat surfaces like building ledges, rocky outcrops, or even the ground.
The Wood Pigeon is often found in large flocks in rural areas and the city. Their numbers have significantly increased, probably because they can live alongside humans.
Babies, known as squabs, are fed crop milk until they are old enough to eat seeds. This is a milk-like liquid made in the parents’ throat crops. Typically, a bird’s throat crop is used to store and digest food collected during the day. But, during the nesting season, it does double-duty by producing crop milk for hatchlings!
Listen closely for the sweet, five-note refrain of the Common Wood Pigeon. Its notes create a series that sounds like “wu-huuu-wu-hu-hu.”
- Prunella modularis
- The coloring is mostly gray and brown, with dark brown to black flecks on its wings and back.
- This species has orange legs and a grey beak, eyes, and cheek patches.
The Dunnock is one of the most widespread birds in Russia.
This distribution is due to their versatility in nesting sites, which include hedges, shrubs, gardens, forest floors, and many other areas. They’ll build a nest pretty much anywhere! They often hide in hedgerows, which is how they got the nickname “Hedge Sparrow.”
Dunnocks feed primarily on the ground and in a very nervous fashion. They constantly look around and flap their wings with every hop as if ready to take flight.
Interestingly, Dunnocks are often targeted by the brood parasitic Cuckoo Bird. This species lays its eggs in other birds’ nests, allowing the nesting bird to raise and care for its chicks. Since Dunnocks are so prolific, Cuckoo birds can escape notice easily. Unfortunately, the Cuckoo chicks often take up all the mother’s attention and prevent the Dunnock chicks from thriving.
The song of the Dunnock is distinctive and quite long, with two or three “TWEEs” in the middle, ending with four soft “chi-chi-chi-chi” notes.
#4. Common Blackbird
- Turdus merula
- Males are entirely black with a bright yellow ring around the eyes. The beak is bright orange.
- Females and juveniles are mottled brown with yellowish-brown beaks. However, they still have a bright yellow eye ring.
The Eurasian or Common Blackbird is one of the most recognizable birds in Russia. Their preferred territories include gardens, wooded habitats, parks, and farmland with hedges. Look for them on lawns and fields, where they spend most of their time foraging insects and earthworms.
Like many blackbirds, this species is extremely territorial, especially during breeding. Look for squabbles and fights to break out regularly over food, nesting locations, and seemingly nothing at all!
Listen for the Eurasian Blackbird’s multi-toned warbling cry, which is easy to recognize, but harder to describe.
#5. Eurasian Blackcap
- Sylvia atricapilla
- Both sexes have a cap on the head, but only the male is black. Females and juveniles have a brown version.
- Gray overall, with pale chests and darker wings. Even the beaks and legs are gray.
Eurasian Blackcaps will inhabit nearly any territory if it has an abundance of food. Forested areas with dense undergrowth are the most common, but you’re just as likely to see them in your garden.
They like suet and grain, making them easy to attract to your feeders. However, look for them to switch to protein-rich insects during the breeding season when they need much more energy.
Due to the Eurasian Blackcap’s melodious fluting singing style, they have earned the unofficial title of “Northern Nightingale.” Its song is a complex series of tweets covering at least a full octave from low to high.
This species also has a snapping, buzzy call that sounds more like an insect! The Eurasian Blackcap uses this call to signal danger or warn others away from its territory.
#6. Bullfinch (Eurasian)
- Pyrrhula pyrrhula
- Males have a bright red chest from their shoulders to their legs, with a black face and cap. Its back, wings, and tail are black to slate gray.
- Females are the same body shape but with dull brown and tan coloring.
These birds thrive in Russia both in natural and manufactured habitats.
But despite being common, Bullfinches are quite shy. They prefer to stay hidden in the cover of trees and are rarely seen on the ground. Many birders rely on hearing them to know a Bullfinch is around. They sometimes visit bird feeders, especially during winter when other food is scarce.
Eurasian Bullfinches can be problematic for farmers and gardeners because their favorite food is the buds of fruit trees. To keep them away from your crop, try planting quinoa, kale, or millet nearby, which will distract them. Or, if you want to attract these pretty birds to your yard, try planting a bunch of fruit trees!
The fluting and whistling notes of a Bullfinch’s song can sound quite sad but still beautiful. Some of their calls are so quiet you’d have a hard time hearing them even up close.
#7. Eurasian Collared Dove
- Streptopelia decaocto
- The coloring of this species is gray throughout and slightly darker at the back.
- They have a small black horizontal stripe on the back of the neck, outlined in white.
- Their beaks and eyes are black, and their legs are pale pink to red.
Despite its drab color, the Eurasian Collared Dove is a very interesting bird in Russia!
This species is native to Russia but has spread across the globe through a series of unlikely events. First, in the mid-1970s, a pet shop in the Bahamas was robbed, and a few Eurasian Collared Doves were released. Then, not long after, more were set free on the island of Guadaloupe during a volcanic eruption. Then, the birds traveled to North America and spread throughout the continent!
Another truly strange feature of the Eurasian Collared Dove is the way it drinks. Unlike most birds that gather water in their beak and tip their head back to drink, this species uses its beak as a straw! It seems unlikely that this large gray bird could have anything in common with a tiny, flashy hummingbird, but they look similar when drinking water.
One of the easiest ways to recognize this species is to listen for its three-note song, which sounds like “coo-coo-coooo.” They also give a warning screech if they land near another bird as if they’re honking a car horn on arrival.
#8. Eurasian Jackdaw
- Coloeus monedula
- Their coloring is dark gray, slightly lighter on the back of the head and shoulders.
- They have a bright white eye ring, dark grey legs and feet, and a dark-colored, pointed beak.
As a member of the crow family, Eurasian Jackdaws prefer open spaces like farmland, pastures, or open woods. So look for these birds in Russia on open lawns in the suburbs, especially near bird feeders.
To attract them to your feeding station, offer peanuts in a tray, which is their favorite feeder food. In the wild, they eat insects and other small creatures while foraging on the ground.
Jackdaws don’t have a distinctive song, but a muted call that sounds like “Chek! Chek! Chek!” is typical for these birds.
#9. Eurasian Jay
- Garrulus glandarius
- Overall, their coloring is brownish-tan, but that can vary dramatically based on location.
- Black wings, beaks, cheek patches, and legs stand out against the brown of its body.
- Flashy wing patches show blue, white, and black iridescence, and the head is white with dark brown streaks.
The Eurasian Jay is one of the most strikingly colored birds in Russia!
Its brown-colored body just highlights the bold coloring of its wings and tail. When spread in flight, this species’ wings have a brilliant blue and white patch that’s impossible to miss! In addition, its bright white patches on the wingtips and base of the tail add more flair to this flashy bird.
Because its coloring is so brilliant, they stand out to predators, so they have to rely on other means for defense. For example, Eurasian Jays are a master of imitation and often produce calls identical to predators like goshawks and buzzards.
However, its natural call is distinctive and sounds like “weeeerrah” repeated over and over with a four- to ten-second pause in between.
#10. Magpie (Eurasian)
- Pica pica
- The head, neck, and breast coloring are shiny black with iridescent purple and green highlights.
- Their shoulders, outer wing tips, and belly are all stark white, though the white wing tips are best observed in flight.
- This species’ feathers between the shoulder and wingtips, as well as the tail, can be iridescent blue-green.
Look for Eurasian Magpies in open countryside, meadows, and rocky areas. They avoid dense forests but often visit parks, gardens, and cities. I think Magpies are beautiful with their mix of black, white, and blue coloring, but they can be aggressive around other birds and at feeders.
This species is one of the most intelligent birds in Russia.
They imitate human speech, and they can recognize themselves in a mirror. In addition, they often cooperate to achieve goals, play games together, and even use tools. Most notably, they grieve when a mate dies, singing specialized songs and behaving differently for a period of time.
The Magpie you see in Russia is also referred to as the Common or Eurasian Magpie, and its scientific name is Pica pica. In North America, the scientific name is Pica hudsonia and is referred to as the American or Black-billed Magpie. Both of these species look identical.
Although they mostly produce mimic vocalizations, they have a natural call that sounds like a raspy chuckle.
#11. Nuthatch (Eurasian)
- Sitta europaea
- They are blue-grey on top and buff orange on the belly with similarly colored legs.
- This species has a blue-grey beak and a black eye stripe from beak to nape, which crosses its white face.
The Eurasian Nuthatch lives in deciduous forests, where it makes its nest inside natural cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes. This species does not migrate, so populations are relatively stable and plentiful throughout the year.
They primarily eat insects and worms. However, they will also consume nuts and seeds. Try offering sunflower hearts, peanuts, or mealworms to attract this species to your feeders. My favorite part about nuthatches is how they frequently climb down trees headfirst! They are common visitors to bird feeders and commonly chase off other birds while scattering seeds in all directions.
The song of a Nuthatch is a quick, warbling series of descending notes. Its call is a sharp “tchee-tchee.”
#12. Eurasian Siskin
- Spinus spinus
- The coloring is largely yellow with hints of green, and their grayish wash makes them look sooty.
- They have heavily black-barred wings, a black face, and a white rump.
- Males have a black beard and a cap and look cleaner, while females are much more streaky.
The Eurasian Siskin is a member of the finch family. Its small, round shape, bright yellow coloring, and cheerful disposition make it a welcome visitor to gardens and backyards.
However, this species is less likely than other birds in Russia to visit feeders. Instead, it prefers seeds from trees such as birch and alder over traditional bird food. Occasionally, the Eurasian Siskin will catch mayflies by hanging upside down and grabbing them out of the air!
To hear the Eurasian Siskin’s song, listen for a high, thin “tee-ee-ee-ee.”
#13. Eurasian Wren
- Troglodytes troglodytes
- The coloring is brown overall with small black and white bars on its body.
- It has black eyes, white eyebrows, and a pale beak. Its legs are pale pink to brown.
- This species has a round body, no neck, and an upturned tail.
Although it’s tiny, the Eurasian Wren is one of the loudest songbirds in Russia!
Its clear, loud call sounds like someone saying, “Wren!” That’s the easiest way to recognize this species.
Eurasian Wrens are found throughout Russia in areas with plenty of places to hide, like thick forests, reed beds, and gardens. They’re primarily insectivores but occasionally eat berries or seeds when insects are scarce.
The scientific name of the Eurasian Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes, actually means cave-dweller because it likes to live in small holes.
- Chloris chloris
- Males have olive-green plumage tinged with yellow during mating season, which grows duller the rest of the year.
- Females and juveniles are always dull grayish-brown.
- They have stout, conical beaks well-adapted for eating seeds.
Have you ever seen a “frowning” bird? Well, then you have never met a Greenfinch. Take a look at their bill! Greenfinches love to visit backyards that offer sunflowers, and they have no issue cracking through the hard shell with their powerful beaks.
Even though most European Greenfinches are year-round residents, those in the far north will migrate to avoid harsh winters. Look for them in open woods, parks, gardens, and farmland.
Unfortunately, some farming practices like using fertilizers and insecticides are causing a decline in European Greenfinch populations. This species is a natural forager, and its diet is easily contaminated with these chemicals, causing sickness and even death.
Listen for the Greenfinch’s unique song, which sounds like “twee-twee-twee, tseeeeee, twee-twee-twee, tseeeeee.”
#15. Goldfinch (European)
- Carduelis carduelis
- The distinct color pattern is present in males and females: a bright red face with white cheeks, a black cap, and a brown back and chest. They have black and white striped wings with a golden yellow bar. The tail is black with white markings.
- Their beaks are conical and strong, white with a black tip.
The Goldfinch might be the most well-known bird in Russia!
Its distinct coloring, simple but pretty song, and fondness for bird feeders make it a well-loved addition to any backyard.
To attract this acrobatic songbird, offer sunflower seeds or nyger (thistle) seed. It’s a favorite among goldfinches! Of course, flowers, fruits, and the buds of plants are also common food sources, and parents will feed insects to hatchlings.
European Goldfinches are gregarious and readily form flocks. They like to assemble in groups of nearly 40 birds and sing together, which is quite a sight!
#16. Robin (European)
- Erithacus rubecula
- Their coloring is orange on the face and breast with slate-blue sides and neck. Their backs are tan, and their bellies are white.
- The beak and eyes are dark brown, while the feet and legs are light brown.
Robins are one of the most widespread birds in Russia!
You can find them across many habitats, but they are especially common visitors to backyards and gardens. The Robin is one of Europe’s most charming and popular birds. They have become tame and are a welcome sight in any backyard. Robins are even known to follow gardeners around! 🙂
They enjoy eating worms, but they will also eat seeds, other invertebrates and insects, fruit, and nuts. During the winter, they’re attracted to suet, especially if it contains mealworms.
You’re likely to hear European Robins singing at all hours of the day. They’re usually the first to start calling in the morning and the last to stop in the evening. Listen for a sweet, breathy song that turns up in pitch at the end.
#17. European Starling
- Sturnus vulgaris
- Winter plumage is black with white spots across the body.
- Summer plumage has a purple-green iridescence, which catches the light beautifully.
- The beak is black, except during breeding season when it turns yellow.
European Starlings are considered a “bully” at backyard feeders. They have the unfortunate habit of descending on a bird feeder in large groups, pushing out other birds, and wiping out tons of food in a single sitting.
In North America, where this species is invasive, many smaller birds have difficulty surviving alongside European Starlings. However, birds in Russia tend to push back more and reclaim their territory against these blackbirds.
Farmers also have their hands full with starlings flocks since they enjoy eating berries, cherries, and other crop foods. They will even steal feed from livestock like cattle and horses!
European Starlings have a variety of calls, and they even mimic other species. Listen for rattles, trilling, chattering, and whistles. They’re known to imitate over 20 different species, including jays, meadowlarks, and hawks.
#18. European Green Woodpecker
- Picus viridis
- This species is green on top and pale yellow on the bottom, with a red cap and a black patch surrounding the light-colored eye.
- The back part of the body is brighter green on top, leading to a black-tipped tail.
- The tail is arrowhead-shaped when folded in for speed or fans out for improved flight control.
Green Woodpeckers are one of the most colorful birds in Russia!
Their bright green plumage is easy to pick out amongst other more drab birds, and the bright red markings on the head make this species a real stunner.
Interestingly, the European Green Woodpecker hardly ever pecks at trees! Their beaks are relatively weak, so they dig in softer wood to make nests and seldom, if ever, drum for communication purposes. Instead, you’re much more likely to catch one shuffling along the ground, probing in search of food.
They spend most of their time searching for their favorite food, ants, which includes their eggs and larvae. In the winter, when their main food source isn’t available, they supplement their diet with nuts and berries.
#19. Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Dendrocopos major
- This species’ scarlet underbelly contrasts starkly with its white chest.
- It has a glossy blue-black cap and back with white running down each shoulder. A yellow spot sits between its eyes, just above the beak.
- The wing feathers are covered with sizable white spots, hence the name.
You can find this bird in Russia anywhere with trees, including farmland, parks, and gardens.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers eat grubs, beetle larvae, caterpillars, spiders, and adult beetles. In addition, they’ll take suet, fatty items like peanuts and sunflower seeds, cracked corn, tree nuts, and mealworms at your feeder. Look for these large woodpeckers during winter, visiting garden bird tables and eating suet.
- Check out my YouTube channel HERE. During many times of the year, I have a LIVE camera from Russia, where it’s possible to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Its strong beak is great for drumming and pecking at wood, which is how it communicates and finds food. They can pound a hole in a tree to get food, but they also have a sensitive tongue with a barb to impale their prey and a sticky mucous to ensure it doesn’t get away.
- Coccothraustes coccothraustes
- The coloring is tawny brown on the head and chest, with white on the back of the neck and brown on the back.
- The ends of the wings are black.
- The stout, grey and white conical beak has a metallic sheen.
The Hawfinch prefers to breed in large mature trees such as oak. However, they will also visit yards or parks, particularly if plum or cherry trees are present.
This tiny bird has an unlikely favorite food: fruit pits! I was surprised that their beaks have a biting power of 30 to 48 kilograms (66 to 106 pounds), which means a tough cherry or plum seed is no match for the Hawfinch. Occasionally, they’ll also eat caterpillars, berries, and pine seeds.
In addition to their strange eating habits, Hawfinch mating rituals are interesting. Pairs stand facing each other, lean forward to touch beaks, and then the male stands tall, puffing up the feathers on his head, and takes a bow, sweeping one wing in front in a semicircle to display the colored bars on his wing. It looks like he is politely inviting the female to dance.
#21. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
- Passer montanus
- The wings and back are medium brown with black streaks, and the belly is pale tan to white.
- They have a black face, black eyes, and a blue-grey beak in summer that turns black during the winter.
- A chestnut brown cap runs down the nape of the neck.
Eurasian Tree Sparrows are often found in rural locations because House Sparrows chase them out of cities and suburban areas. Look for them in farmland, open woods, and large parks.
In addition to House Sparrows competing for their territory, Eurasian Tree Sparrows are also preyed upon by several species. In particular, birds of prey, cats, and snakes are known to hunt these little songbirds.
At first glance, the Tree Sparrows look identical to the male House Sparrow. But once you know what to look for, they are easy to tell apart! To determine if you are observing a House Sparrow or Tree Sparrow, you need to look at the top of the head. The top of the head and back of the neck on a Tree Sparrow is covered in a rich chestnut color. Male House Sparrows have a dark grey crown that extends from the top of its bill to its back.
Their call is high and shrill and sounds a bit like “tchee-TCHEE, tchee-TCHEE, tchee-TCHEE.”
#22. House Sparrow
- Passer domesticus
- Males are predominantly slate gray, with black stripes under the chin and from the beak to the eyes. In addition, they have brown “eyebrows” and brown, black, and white-streaked wings.
- Females are far plainer, mostly dull brown and gray.
House Sparrows are opportunistic birds that live across Russia.
Although its native numbers in Russia are declining slightly, it has become invasive across much of the rest of the world, where it thrives with little competition and pushes out many native species.
This species is granivorous, meaning they prefer flowers, grasses, and bird seed mixes. Unfortunately, their fearlessness around people and other birds means they can easily take over your feeders. However, by eliminating millet and other grains, you can increase your variety of visitors.
In most urban and suburban areas, it’s INCREDIBLY COMMON to see House Sparrows. They owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Unlike most other birds, they love grains and are commonly seen eating bread and popcorn at amusement parks, sporting events, etc.
House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. Pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another country. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.
#23. Blue Tit
- Cyanistes caeruleus
- The coloring is bright blue on the head, neck, and wings, with greenish-yellow on the back and chest.
- Black streaks run down the chin and across the eyes from the beak. The face is bright white.
- This species is squat, round, and neckless with a small pointed beak, rounded head, and short tail.
The Blue Tit is one of the most colorful birds in Russia!
Its bright coloring makes it easy to recognize even from a distance. Interestingly, the sulfurous yellow coloring on the back and belly directly results from eating yellow-green caterpillars that eat carotene-loaded plant leaves!
In addition to caterpillars, they eat millipedes, beetles, aphids, and fly larvae. At your bird feeder, they’ll favor high-protein items like nuts and suet. Gardeners like them for eating certain destructive moths and aphids that would otherwise damage their flowers or crops.
They’re acrobatic in flight and don’t mind hanging upside down at bird feeders to eat. Blue Tits are small and vulnerable, so it’s no surprise they are quick and athletic!
#24. Coal Tit
- Periparus ater
- Their coloring is gray above and buff-colored below, with white cheeks and a black cap.
- Some subspecies can raise the feathers at their crown, forming a crest.
- Their body shape is plump with no neck and relatively long legs.
The Coal Tit is one of the smallest birds in Russia!
This tiny bird weighs just 9-10 grams (0.32 tp 0.35 ounces). They are outgoing and friendly and often will be one of the first visitors to a new bird feeder. They like sunflower seeds, suet, and mealworms. In addition to these feeder items, they also eat spiders and aphids.
Coal Tits occupy most habitats as long as there is some tree cover, so they can make a home anywhere from ultra-rural locations to city centers. In particular, look for them in home gardens and parks. For people that live in North America, Coal Tits act very similarly to chickadees.
The unique song of the Coal Tit is easy to recognize if you know what to listen for. It makes a high-pitched, tinny sound similar to “TEE-ta-TEE-ta-TEE-ta-TEE.”
#25. Crested Tit
- Lophophanes cristatus
- The crest on this bird’s crown is permanent, unlike others in the same family.
- Its distinctive black and white crest make this bird unmistakable. Its beak and legs are a bluish-grey, with a buff-colored chest and grey back.
- Most notably, its eyes are a reddish brown color unique to this species.
With its mohawk-like, striped crest, reddish eyes, and pointed beak, this little bird looks a bit like a rock star! Although the Crested Tit isn’t commonly found at feeders, they spend some time in orchards, woodlands, and parks, so it’s not too hard to catch a glimpse. The Crested Tit predominantly eats caterpillars, insects, and spiders but switches to eating conifer seeds in winter when bugs are scarce.
One of the most interesting things about the Crested Tit is where they make their nests. When the bark of dead pine trees bursts due to weather changes, it reveals holes that are the perfect size for nesting.
These dead pine trees are called “Scottish snags,” but I like to call them “Crested Tit Apartment Homes.” 🙂
#26. Great Tit
- Parus major
- A yellow belly with a distinctive black stripe running right down the middle of its chest, a jade back, and a black cap and collar that contrasts with its white cheek patches.
- Its wings are grey-brown with a flashy lateral white-yellow bar, and the tail is a black fan.
The Great Tit is one of the most recognizable birds in Russia.
They live throughout Russia in mixed forests, clearings, and dense woodlands. They have a particular affinity for people, and you’ll often find them in parks, gardens, cultivated fields, and even cities.
Climate change is causing an unexpected conflict between the Great Tit and another European bird, the Pied Flycatcher. Historically, these two species used the same breeding grounds at different times of the year. But because climate change is causing seasonal temperature fluctuations, the species have started showing up at the breeding sites simultaneously.
Unfortunately for the Pied Flycatcher, they are severely outmatched by the Great Tit, which weighs nearly twice as much. Great Tits often kill Pied Flycatchers in territory disputes, and it’s causing a decrease in Pied Flycatcher populations.
The Great Tit has over 70 songs and vocalizations! There are so many different calls to choose from; compilations are available so you can familiarize yourself with common examples.
#27. Long-tailed Tit
- Aegithalos caudatus
- Its teardrop-shaped body is a pale buff on the bottom, while the wings and upper parts are black, with pale red shoulders.
- It has black eyes with a red flash of an eyebrow above.
The Long-tailed Tit prefers moderate temperatures and spends time in temperate woodlands, parks, and gardens.
This species eats insects and their larvae in the wild, so fatty, high-protein food will attract them to your feeders. Try peanuts, suet, sunflower seeds, and mealworms to entice them to drop by.
Listen for a high-pitched, piercing call that sounds like “Whooo-who-hee hee.” However, its song is more melodious with a whispering quality.
#28. Marsh Tit
- Poecile palustris
- This species has a beige face, a shiny black beak, and a black goatee, and the bottom half of its head is white all around.
- The top half of the body is pale brown, including the wings, but the underparts are all off-white, except the black legs.
- Essentially indistinguishable from the Willow Tit, except for a tiny white spot on the upper beak near the face.
The Marsh Tit often hangs upside down by one leg, seeking food from natural sources like branches and bushes or feeders. If a feeder gets busy, it will move to the ground beneath and grab all the seeds that have been dropped.
This species usually nests quite close to its food source, so there’s a good chance they will nest near your bird feeders. However, the Marsh Tit is opportunistic in nesting, creating space in existing tree holes, animal burrows, and even in walls of buildings. Their nests can be up to 20 cm (eight inches) deep!
Listening to the song is virtually the ONLY way to accurately differentiate the Marsh Tit from the Willow Tit. Luckily they sing quite a bit, and the sounds are remarkably different from one another.
The Marsh Tit’s song is a tiu-tiu-tiu-tiu-tiu, repeated every few seconds. The call is a staccato “chu-chu” sound.
#29. Willow Tit
- Poecile montanus
- This species has a beige face and shiny-metallic black beak, a black goatee, and the bottom half of its head is white all around.
- The top half of the body is pale brown, including the wings, but the underparts are all off-white, except the black legs.
- Essentially indistinguishable from the Marsh Tit, except this species does not have a white spot on its upper beak.
Willow Tits prefer to live in damp wooded areas. However, they’ve also been known to occupy gravel pits, abandoned industrial sites, lowland peat bogs, or areas with standing deadwood where it is easy to excavate nesting holes. They also like moist conifer forests with undergrowth.
Insects and insect larvae are their main food source; however, in the winter, they will eat seeds from bird feeders and some berries. Put out suet in winter, and the Willow Tit will likely eat it, even without embedded seed.
Unlike the Marsh Tit, the Willow Tit’s song is slower and harsher. Their call is shrill and short and sounds like “churr-churr.”
- Emberiza citrinella
- Males are primarily yellow, with brown markings on the breast, cheeks, and wings. The beaks are grayish, and the legs brownish-pink.
- Females are predominantly brown with a yellow wash across the back and belly.
Birders in Russia use the mnemonic “A little bit of bread and no cheese” to describe the song of the Yellowhammer. It’s a sweet, pleasing tune, and with a bit of practice, it’s easily recognizable!
Yellowhammers are granivores, so they focus on gathering seeds and grains. However, during the breeding season, they add insects to their diet, particularly for feeding the young.
Outside the breeding season, Yellowhammers gather in flocks of hundreds of birds, which can include other species like finches or buntings. They sing in choruses while sitting together on low branches.
Birders from North America may confuse the Yellowhammer with a few native species. For example, it looks remarkably similar to the pine warbler.
#31. Black Drongo
- Dicrurus macrocercus
- Adults are 28 cm (11 in) long.
- Its coloring is glossy black, with a gray beak and legs. It has red eyes.
- This species has a distinctive forked tail, but the tail feathers are rounded instead of pointed.
The Black Drongo is completely black and has a distinctive forked tail. They’re found in savannas, open country, fields, and even urban centers. This species flies with snappy wing movements, making it agile in the air for hunting its main food source, insects. They even perch on grazing animals because they can gobble up any insects disturbed by the larger animals.
If you used one word to describe the Black Drongo, it would be aggressive! Whether they’re guarding their territory, fighting for mating dominance, or hunting for food, this bird in Russia is one that very few other species will mess with. In fact, it’s often called the “King Crow” because of its domineering personality.
Smaller birds often nest nearby the Black Drongo because it keeps them safe, too. And in return for their protection, the smaller birds often feed the young of the Drongo. It’s an even trade, bodyguard to babysitter. 🙂
Their song can be quite loud and harsh, and they have the unfortunate habit of singing very early in the morning.
#32. Black Kite
- Milvus migrans
- Adults are 48-60 cm (19-24 in) long with a wingspan of about 150 cm (59 in).
- Their coloring is dark brown to brownish red, with a white face.
- The legs are yellow, and the hooked beak is black with yellow at the base.
Although its name suggests a mostly black species, the Black Kite is generally dark brown to reddish. It’s easy to mistake this bird in Russia for other birds of prey, so make sure to look closely when identifying!
Black Kites are graceful fliers, soaring over water and open land. They’re adept at catching their prey, such as frogs, mice, rats, small birds, snakes, salamanders, snails, and insects, but occasionally eat carrion (road-kill). This species can hunt on the ground as well as from the air and visits garbage dumps or beaches looking for edible trash.
Look for Black Kites near streams or rivers. They can hunt their favorite prey there and are adequate fish hunters, too. These clever birds will also soar around the fringes of forest fires, catching fleeing animals.
This species has a lonely, whistling call that might remind you of a red-tailed hawk.
#33. Common Kingfisher
- Alcedo atthis
- Adults are about 16 cm (6.2 in) long with a wingspan of 25 cm (10 in).
- This species has bright blue upper parts speckled in white, with a rufous chest and rusty cheeks.
- Its sharp black bill is roughly the same length as its head.
You might know this colorful bird in Russia as the “River Kingfisher”.
As you can assume from their name, fish is a component of their diet. However, the truly fascinating thing about them is how they catch the fish! They have a third transparent eyelid for when they are underwater, one eye is suited for air, and the other is suited to seeing underwater. The “underwater eye” has binocular vision, which allows it to judge the distance to its prey with extreme precision.
They need to eat 60% of their body weight daily, so they will aggressively control a territory with enough food. If another kingfisher enters the territory, fights can ensue where the winner usually grabs the other’s beak and holds it underwater until it drowns. It might seem brutal, but it’s truly a matter of survival for these hungry birds.
Unfortunately, most juveniles don’t survive until adulthood. They’re often driven out of their parents’ territory before they learn to catch food, and many become waterlogged and drown. Only 25% of adults survive to breed the next year, and most adults only live for one year in the wild.
#34. Common Myna
- Acridotheres tristis
- Adults are 23 cm (9 in) long.
- They have thick yellow legs, a yellow-tipped bill, and a yellow patch of skin underneath their eyes.
- Their plumage is glossy black on the head with a brown body and lighter undercarriage. The undersides of their wings are pure white.
The Common Myna is one of only three birds worldwide to make the Top 100 Most Invasive Species list! Although the reasons are complex, the IUCN Species Survival Commission stated that it poses “a threat to biodiversity, agriculture, and human interests.”
The main problem with the Common Myna is that it will eat basically anything, meaning it can outcompete native species and decimate their numbers. They readily devour the chicks and eggs of other birds, lizards, fruits, beetles and their larvae, spiders, snails, flies, worms, and caterpillars.
But, as the saying (sort of) goes, one man’s invasive pest is another Farmer’s Friend. At least, that’s what this species is called in India, where it eats insects that damage crops, like grasshoppers and locusts. 🙂
This species doesn’t just eat all day either – their extreme vocal range makes for a noisy day anytime they’re around. They can growl, croak, chirrup, squawk, whistle, and click. The Common Myna can even mimic human speech!
#35. Daurian Redstart
- Phoenicurus auroreus
- Adults are 14-15 cm (about 6 in) long.
- Males have a rust-colored belly, grey cap, and black wings with a white patch. Their eyes, beaks, and legs are black.
- Females are a dull brownish-gray all over, with a wash of orange on the tail and rump.
Daurian Redstarts live in open forests, the edges of agricultural areas, parks, and private gardens. This bird in Russia is confident around humans, letting them get very close before moving off. Its primary food is insects, especially during breeding, but it also eats berries and seeds.
Females of the species are members of the ubiquitous LBJs (Little Brown Jobs, in ornithologist speak), meaning that they are nearly impossible to distinguish from each other. The best way to recognize a female Daurian Restart is the understated red rump and tail, more easily seen in flight. Males are easier to recognize because of their unique color patterns.
Daurian Redstarts are quiet birds, except when advertising their territory. Even while courting, this species rarely makes much noise. Instead, the male will feed the female and perform exaggerated wing and feather displays to show off its healthy colors.
#36. Eastern Spot-Billed Duck
- Anas zonorhyncha
- Adults are 55–63 cm (22–25 in) long with a wingspan of 83–95 cm (33–37 in).
- Their overall coloring is dark brown or greyish, with a blue speculum (a colored patch on the secondary wing feathers). The undersides of the wings are bright white.
- Its characteristic yellow spot on the bill usually has a tiny black dot at the end. Its legs are brilliant orange.
The Eastern Spot-billed Duck is a dabbler, meaning they feed at the surface rather than diving. They stick their rumps out of the water and graze on whatever they find immediately beneath them, including plants and snails.
Unlike diving ducks, dabblers’ legs are located further forward on their bodies, making it much easier for them to walk on land. Divers have more rearward legs and bigger feet to aid in swimming underwater. Dabblers have smaller feet since they don’t need them for underwater propulsion to chase food.
Look for these birds in Russia in rice paddies, wetlands, rivers, and ponds. They are gregarious and friendly outside the breeding season, often forming small flocks. They don’t mind humans, and you can expect them to come close to investigate, especially if you bring a gift of cut grapes or shredded lettuce. Just don’t give them bread or other human scraps, which aren’t good for ducks.
Their call can be a traditional “whack-whack-whack” in a monotone, but they also make a “wha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” that sounds like they are having a good belly laugh. 🙂
#37. Grey Heron
- Ardea cinerea
- Adults are 100 cm (39 in) tall with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wingspan.
- Their coloring is white overall with narrow bluish-black stripes on the front of the body and the head. A long, thin crest of dark feathers falls off the back of the head.
- The wings are light gray, with dark slate-gray wingtips.
- The sharply pointed bill is a faint yellow, and the legs are dark pink to brown.
The Grey Heron is a wading bird native to the temperate climates of Russia.
Look for them in wetlands, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and coastal areas by the sea. They’re comfortable around humans, sometimes visiting recreational fishermen on the shore looking for snacks. They even visit zoos to grab food left for the animals on display!
Grey Herons are the apex predator in their range, meaning they aren’t preyed upon by larger animals. They stand still with their necks coiled, ready to stab instantly when a fish or other prey comes into range. Additionally, they often stand on one leg to disguise themselves like a stick in the water.
Their sounds can be guttural and creaky or a sudden and startling “Gwack!”
#38. Japanese Tit
- Parus minor
- Adults are 12.5–15 cm (5-6 in) long.
- Their coloring is pale tan on the underside with an olive back, black head, gray wings, and white cheek patches.
- The tail feathers are long, and the body and head are rounded, without much neck.
The Japanese Tit is one of the most fascinating birds in Russia!
This species loves mountainous terrain and spends its life at high elevations. Instead of migrating south for winter and northward during summer, they move up and down their mountains to follow ideal weather. This habit is called altitudinal migration because they move from higher mountain elevations in the summer to lower ones in the winter.
They forage on insects and larvae but are omnivorous and also eat berries, seeds, and fruits. Don’t expect them to eat anything too large, though; they’re small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
Though small, the Japanese Tit has a remarkably loud voice. Its call ranges from noises like “tizzy-tizzy” at irregular intervals to “zit-zit-zit-zit-zit.” All of its sounds are high-pitched and shrill.
#39. Oriental Magpie
- Pica serica
- Adults are 46–50 cm (18-20 in) long.
- This species is black overall, with an iridescent purplish-blue wash over the back and tail.
- They have a white patch on the wings and belly.
These birds are immortalized in Russia in books, stamps, currency, and many everyday items. Oriental Magpies represent luck, prosperity, love, wealth, and just about everything good. Children are even told to throw teeth they’ve lost onto the roof of their house for magpies, and he will bring them a new tooth.
In addition, the Oriental Magpie has proven to be one of the most intelligent creatures after humans. In intelligence tests, it outperforms apes and dolphins. This incredible bird even recognizes itself in a mirror, a skill human babies don’t pick up until they’re toddlers. Additionally, when dividing food for the young, they will make and use tools to cut food into bite-sized portions.
In the wild, look for the Oriental Magpie in forests, meadows, savannas, and sagebrush offering lots of insects and water. They rarely migrate, instead nesting and living in the same area year-round. The chicks quickly move out of the nest but often stay in the family territory.
#40. White Wagtail
- Motacilla alba
- Adults are 16.5-19 cm (6.4-7.4 in) long.
- Their coloring is black, white, and dull gray. Their white face and black throat are the most noticeable features.
- This species has long legs, a puffed chest, and a rounded head.
White Wagtails are common across Eurasia, but incredibly, this little guy sometimes ventures all the way to western Alaska for nesting. It makes its home in abandoned fishing huts and cabins, beach debris, or empty oil drums.
This species falls victim to the Common Cuckoo, a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the host’s nest. Usually, a host bird is forced to care for the cuckoo chick, but not White Wagtails. Since they are too small to destroy the eggs, they often abandon an invaded nest and start over.
The White Wagtail got its name from the way it forages along the water’s edge, wagging its tail, looking for insects. They mostly hunt on land but will pursue prey in the air occasionally. Sometimes they wade in shallows or walk atop floating masses of vegetation while on the hunt. Likely prey includes crane flies, midges, mayflies, and aquatic larvae.
Its call is an extremely short and fast pair of high-pitched chirrups.
#41. Little Egret
- Egretta garzetta
- Adults are 55–65 cm (22–26 in) long with an 88–106 cm (35–42 in) wingspan.
- They are white with black bills and legs and yellow eyes and feet.
- Their necks have a strong “S” curve, and they have a thin tuft of long feathers on the head.
These aquatic birds in Russia are almost always found near the water.
Look for Little Egrets along coastlines and larger inland waterways like lakes and rivers. They catch fish, crustaceans, and insects directly from the water while standing in the shallows or flying over the surface.
Little Egrets are very sociable and commonly form small flocks. However, despite their tendency to group together, they can be very territorial about food. Often, these small egrets will fight one another for prime hunting locations unless food is abundant.
The population of the Little Egret has been threatened by overhunting not once but twice throughout history. During the Middle Ages, this species was hunted for food to near extinction. Then in the late 1800s, Little Egrets were threatened once more by overhunting for their feathers.
This species is protected by conservation laws and considered a species of least concern. It’s got to be persistent to have survived all that!
#42. Rock Pigeon
- Columba livia
- A plump bird with a small head, short legs, and a thin bill.
- The typical pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars. But their plumage is highly variable, and it’s common to see varieties ranging from all-white to rusty brown.
Rock Pigeons are extremely common birds in Russia but are almost exclusively found in urban areas.
These birds are what everyone refers to as “pigeons.” You have probably seen them gathering in huge flocks in city parks, hoping to get some birdseed or leftover food tossed their way.
These birds are easy to identify by sound. My guess is that you will already recognize their soft, throaty coos. (Press PLAY below)
Love them or hate them, Rock Pigeons have been associated with humans for a long time! Some Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that people started domesticating them over 5,000 years ago. And because of these facts, scientists aren’t even sure where their original range was.
#43. Barn Swallow
- Hirundo rustica
- Small bird with a flat head, thin bill, pointed wings, thick neck, and fork-like tail.
- Both sexes are similar – striking royal blue back, rusty brown underparts, with a rufous colored forehead and throat. White spots on the tail are typically visible during flight.
These birds are typically found in Russia in open fields, meadows, pond marshes, or coastal waters.
Barn Swallows prefer to eat larger insects rather than eating groups of smaller ones. They primarily feed close to water or the ground catching insects in mid-air. This bird doesn’t typically ever come to bird feeders. But you may get lucky if you leave out eggshells or oyster shells on a platform feeder. These foods aid in their digestion.
One interesting fact about Barn Swallows is sometimes, an unmated male will kill young birds in a nest to break up the parenting Barn Swallow couple. Then the unmated male gets together with the female. Talk about a complicated love triangle! 🙂
Both males and females sing a song of warbling notes and mechanical sounds. Listen below.
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