Are you trying to identify a bird found in the United Kingdom?
This can be an immense challenge because of the sheer number of species. Did you know there have been 626 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 30 COMMON types of birds in the United Kingdom!
#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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom! 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 the United Kingdom.
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 the United Kingdom. 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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom!
This species is native to the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom!
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 the United Kingdom.
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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom!
Its clear, loud call sounds like someone saying, “Wren!” That’s the easiest way to recognize this species.
Eurasian Wrens are found throughout the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom!
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 the United Kingdom!
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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom!
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 the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom, 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 the United Kingdom.
Although its native numbers in the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom!
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 the United Kingdom!
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 the United Kingdom.
They live throughout the United Kingdom 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 the United Kingdom 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.
Do you need help identifying birds of Europe?
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Which of these birds in the United Kingdom have you seen before?
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