Types of birds you see in the UK

The UK is awash with different bird species, some 574 in total, more than most of us could possibly name. We are used to birds like the thrush, blackbird, and robin, but others fly below our radar. While some of these birds are rare and under threat, others are shy and reluctant subjects for twitcher.

Here we offer a guide of some birds you might want to spot if you live in the UK and look out into your garden.


Probably the most favourite bird of all in the UK is the little robin. Distinct because of its red breast, it has become associated strongly with Christmas. Yet, the robin is available for spotting all year round; it is just a lot more active during the festive season.

Collared Dove

The name clearly shows that the collared dove has a distinctive black ring around its neck that resembles a collar. It comes in pale pinkish grey to brown and reddish feet. They are one of those birds that are easy enough to spot, especially if you listen out for the monotonous cooing they offer as a song.

Great Tit

Although still quite diminutive, the great tit is the largest UK tit family. It is a favourite of bird spotters due to its beautiful plumage that stands out on a gloomy UK day. When looking for the great tit, keep an eye out for the blue-black head and the white cheeks. If you are listening out for it, it has a two-syllable song. What is distinctive about the great tit is joining with other breeds of tit to form a flock in winter.


Certainly, rarer than the other species mentioned so far, the goldfinch is a stunning bird. Its bright red face and flash of yellow on the wing. You are much more likely to hear the goldfinch, with its peaceful twittering, than you are to spot it. In the winter, the goldfinch migrates to Spain, though it is increasingly choosing to visit garden bird feeders.


The chaffinch is high up there of all the birds you are likely to spot. It is the most common UK bird and will love a visit to your bird feeder. While it is unlikely to come to a bird table, you will see it feeding on the floor and in the hedges, picking up stray bits. It is well camouflaged, but its loud song will soon direct you.


The blackbird is indeed black – well, the males are anyway. The female blackbirds are mainly brown with spots and patterns. It is easiest to spot and name the male due to its bright orange beak. The blackbird is easy to attract to your garden, as it is a lover of bird tables.


Starlings are most recognisable from beneath, with their distinctive wing shape. They also rarely come alone, and you will see a flock of them passing through soon enough. They like to make their presence felt for such a small bird.

House Sparrow

The house sparrow might be a favourite of the British public, but it is serious at risk. A significant decline in numbers has led to concern for this species in UK gardens. Unlike most animals who darken in the winter and lighten in the summer, the house sparrow goes in the opposite direction. They are yellowy brown in the winter and blacker in warmer times.


A bird that likes to prey on other birds, the magpie has something of a torrid reputation. We tend to link it to the rhyme about misery and luck and all things life and find ourselves saluting the single magpie, just in case. The magpie is a noisy bird that sounds like guffawing at you from afar.
Carrion Crow

The carrion crow is a clever bird and fearless when taking on more powerful raptors. However, with humans, it is reserved and standoffish. If you can give it a safe place to feed, it will come back again and again. You are most likely to spot a solitary bird alone or in a pair.


Despite its colourful appearance, the jay is a member of the crow family. It is seen over much of the southern portion of the UK and prefers the cover of woodland and feed on acorns.


Finally, the sweet brown wren with its loud voice. It is the most common bird that breeds in the UK and is likely hidden in bushes and hedges, making something of a beautiful racket.

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