If you have spent some time cultivating a bird friendly garden then you should soon start to see some of Britain’s most common garden birds visiting your bird tables and feeders and wildlife friendly plants.
These mini guides to some of our favourite birds to visit British gardens will assist you with their identification as well as help you find out more about each species. You’ll also discover what types of food will attract them to your garden.
For a more comprehensive guide to identifying British birds take a look at our bird identification guides where you will find detailed descriptions of over 170 British birds.
A large thrush with a long tail that runs and stops across the ground. Males are black with a yellow bill and eye ring. Females are brown with streaked breasts and a pale throat. Her bill is dark, or yellow with a dark tip. In flight the wings and tail are broad and the male has a paler outerwing. They often raise their tail on landing and have a loud, mellow, fluty song which is best heard at dusk.
Blackbirds can be spotted foraging on the ground picking the grass and earth to find worms. They’ll enjoy fruit left out for them on bird tables or the ground.
A small, barrel-bodied, acrobatic tit that visits trees, shrubs, and bird tables. Its strong grip allows it rest at any angle. A bright blue cap surrounded by white on the face and black on the chin and through the eyes. Blue wings and tail, and yellow underparts with a darker streak down the centre. Females can sometimes look greener. Has a high, sharp call and a slurred song. Can often be found in mixed flocks with other tits.
Blue tits’ natural diet consists of insects, caterpillars, and beetles, but they’ll happily eat from bird feeders, in particular nuts and sunflower seeds.
A sparrow-sized finch with a long body. Male has orange-pink underparts, a greenish rump, dark wings with white wing bars which distinguish it from other finches. The face is orange-pink with a blue-grey cap. The female is duller, olive-grey above, and olive-buff below. Thick seed-eating slate-grey bill. Often tame around car parks and gardens. Song is bright and rattling, while call is monotonous, repeated over long periods in the summer.
Chaffinches can be shy birds preferring to eat undercover. Sprinkle seed mixes near shrubs and hedges to encourage them to visit your garden.
Neat, elongated dove often found on the ground, TV aerials, wires, and roofs. Pale greyish-sandy plumage with a thin black collar. Dark-tipped wings with a grey panel. In flight the underwing is soft, pale grey, and the underside of the tail has a black base and broad white tip. Monotonous triple call. Flight call is nasal. Wings clatter less than pigeons but can whistle loudly in short, fast flights.
Collared doves eat mainly seeds and grain although they’ll occasionally eat berries and insects too. A high energy seed mix will attract them to your garden.
Small, dark, sparrow-like bird but with a fine bill. Delicate and shy, it creeps along the ground looking for food. Heavily streaked upperparts and flanks, grey underparts, and face. Thin, orange-brown legs, and reddish eye. Often found in groups with spread wings or shuffling and creeping on flexed legs. Call is a bright, even whistle, while song is a fast, high warble with even speed and pitch.
Dunnocks are primarily ground-feeding birds and flick their tail as they eat insects and spiders. Offer them some live or soaked dried mealworms for a tasty treat.
Small, dainty finch with a conspicuous red face and yellow on wing. The upperparts are dull brown, and the underparts are buffy-white with brown breast patches. Wings are black, rump is white, and tail is black with white spots at the tip. Feeds on seeds of thistle, teasel, and other weeds. Perches high in leafy trees and often in groups of between 5 and 10 or more where food is abundant. Distinctive tinkling call, often heard when birds are flying.
Sunflower hearts are a firm favourite with goldfinches. Fill up a special feeder and you should soon have a charm come flocking to your garden.
Great spotted woodpecker
Medium-sized woodpecker with a bold, distinctive pattern. Jerky movements in trees and on bird feeders. Black and white upperparts, and buff underparts. Barred black and white wings visible in flight. Vivid red under the tail and male has red patch on the back of the head. Large oval white patch on the side of the back. Female has an all black nape and weaker red under the tail. Drums in spring, hammering bill on a tree trunk or branch. Deep undulating flight. Loud, abrupt call, and squeaky, rattling alarm call.
Great spotted woodpeckers typically feed by picking insects from the crevices in trees. Offer them a suet log feeder if you want them to visit your garden.
Largest tit with bold black and white head and black central breast. Common at bird feeders but often feeds on the ground.
In the wild great tits eat mainly insects but they’re common visitors to gardens and will enjoy tucking into nuts, sunflower heats, and seed mixes.
Stout pale bill, drab to bright green body, yellow on wings and tail. Female has slightly less yellow than male.
Greenfinches’s beaks have adapted to feed on seeds so if you want to see these birds in your garden offer them niger and other small seeds, which they’ll eat often side-by-side with goldfinches.
Small, lively, sociable and noisy birds. The male is streaked rusty-brown on his back while the female is sandy-brown. They usually feed on the ground in large groups.
House sparrows have a diverse diet and will eat just about anything. Use up your leftover cheese, nuts, crumbs, and suet to make a delicious homemade fat treat.
Striking colours but white rump most obvious feature, especially in flight. Blue on wing less easy to see. Hops in springy bounds on the ground but usually secretive.
Jays love acorns and other nuts and can often be seen carrying them to their winter stores in autumn. Try unshelled peanuts if you want them to visit your garden.
Tiny, pink, black and white with long, black tail. Usually in small groups flying “follow my leader” style from shrub to shrub.
Long-tailed tits often feed in flocks and will readily feed from bird feeders, fat balls, and suet blocks.
Large pied bird with a very long tail. Juvenile is short-tailed at first but unmistakably a magpie. Harsh chattering call.
Magpies are opportunistic feeders and will sometimes take the eggs and chicks of other birds. Divert their attention with kitchen scraps or even dog and cat food.
Cocky bold birds with plain brown backs, orange-red faces and bibs edged with grey. They are territorial even in winter and sing loudly from perches to keep away rival birds.
Robins can be very protective over food sources so give them their own special feeder filled with mealworms, raisins, mild grated cheese, and crushed nuts.
Pale brown back, v-shaped spots on cream breast. Musical strident song with each short phrase repeated several times.
Song thrushes forage in leaf piles in search of caterpillars, worms, and snails. Leave berries and windfall apples on the ground to encourage them into your garden.
Blackish, glossy plumage, heavily spotted white in winter. Short-tailed, smaller than blackbirds. Good mimic of other birds and mechanical sounds.
Starlings can be aggressive feeders and will often arrive at bird tables and feeders in large flocks. Suet-based foods will keep their energy levels up.
Large pigeon with white on neck, pink breast and white marks on wings. Takes off with a clatter of wings. Deep chest noticeable in flight.
Wood pigeons will eat from a bird table sometimes not allowing smaller birds to get a look in. Put out peanuts, sunflower hearts, and seed mixes for a healthy all-round diet.
Tiny, rusty brown. Pale line over eye and barred wings. Short, dry, irritated call and loud, strident song. Moves mouselike through undergrowth.
Wrens are very secretive and although they are the UK’s most common bird can be hard to spot in the garden. Scatter some mealworms or slices of fruit smeared with peanut butter near the base of hedges and shrubs.