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Published on : 27th December 2017

The Most Common Birds In Britain

Flight of birds

As of January 2017, there are 603 species of birds occurring in the UK according to the British Trust for Ornithology. This list includes those that reside in the country as well as those that migrate here during the winter season. Without a doubt, Britain’s bird population is very diverse which is why bird-watching activities are fairly common in the country.

Of the hundreds of species present in Britain, which of these are the most common?

What Are The Most Common Birds In The UK?

Blue Tit: The blue tit belongs to the Paridae family, along with the great tits. There are about 3.6 million pairs breeding annually in the UK. What fascinates most people about this bird is its colourful appearance, a beautiful mixture of blue, white, yellow and green. Distinguishing an adult blue tit from a young blue tit is easy since the former has yellow breast, white cheeks and blue cap while the latter has yellow instead of white cheeks.

Blue tit

Blue tits feed on seeds, nuts and insects. They are found all over the country, particularly in gardens, parks, woodlands and hedgerows. If you want to see more of these birds, you can head to Holkham Hall & Estate, Richmond Park and Margam Country Park.

Blackbird: From the Turdidae family, blackbirds breeding annually in the country are around 5.1 million pairs. Despite their name, not all blackbirds have black feathers. In fact, this is only true for male blackbirds, with their entire body coloured black except for their beak which is coloured yellow to bright orange. Female blackbirds’ feathers are usually brown and their breasts bear spots and streaks. Meanwhile, young blackbirds have feathers which are reddish brown in colour. There are blackbirds with one or two white feathers or white blotches on them because of a condition called albinism.

Said to be solitary birds, blackbirds may join groups for feeding and roosting purposes but they do not interact with them. They can be found everywhere, from countryside to coasts. You may even see them in your garden!

Chaffinch: This type of bird belongs to the Finches family. It is the second most common annually breeding bird in the UK – 6.2 million pairs. It is also said to be the most colourful bird from the family of finches because of its distinctive plumage. It has white outer tail feathers as well as white specks on its wings. Male chaffinches’ feathers are brighter or more striking than females.

These birds make a loud sound which is familiar to seasoned birdwatchers. In terms of size, they are as big as house sparrows but are slimmer and more elongated in shape. Also, their tails are longer than that of the house sparrow.

House Sparrow: From the Passeridae family, the house sparrow is the Big Garden Birdwatch’s most sighted bird for 2017. However, this distinction doesn’t reflect the real state of its population in the country. Since 1977, the number of house sparrows in England has been declining. Meanwhile, places like Northern Ireland and Scotland have posted an increase in their population. In terms of number of pairs breeding annually, there are about 5.3 million pairs in the UK.

House sparrows may be seen rummaging through trash since they feed on scraps (as well as seeds). These birds prefer to breed and eat in places with a high population of people. This explains why they are abundant in cities.

Jackdaw: This bird belongs to the crow family; it’s also their smallest member. The recognisable silver sheen at the back of its head is what sets it apart from other crows. Each year, around 1.4 million pairs of this type of bird breed in the country.


Unlike blackbirds, jackdaws are social birds. During winter and autumn seasons, they join carrion crows and rooks to roost. In addition to seeds and insects, this type of bird also eats eggs and young birds. Except for the Scottish Highlands, you can spot jackdaws anywhere, especially in Wollaton Park.

Wood Pigeon: The wood pigeon is from the Columbidae family, where doves also belong. They are generally grey in colour with white patches on the neck and wings. It is estimated that 5.4 million pairs of wood pigeons breed in the country yearly.

Said to be the largest pigeon in the country, the wood pigeon seems to be more comfortable in towns and cities as it displays a tame and friendly demeanour in these places. In the countryside, however, this bird is more reserved. Also the most common pigeon in the UK, the wood pigeon is found in gardens, parks and woods. They feed on seeds and berries as well as crops like peas and cabbages.

Wren: One of the smallest birds in Britain, the wren is from the Troglodytidae family. With 8.6 million pairs breeding yearly, this bird has the biggest population in the country.  Its distinctive features include long legs and toes, short, narrow tail and short, rounded wings. Wrens usually have brown feathers and a fine bill.

Despite their size, wrens make a distinctive, loud song which is described as well-structured and composed of clear and high-pitched notes. They live in various places such as farmlands, woodlands and islands.


Flight Of Birds

Image Attribution: By Mdk572 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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Blue Tit

Image Attribution: By Francis Franklin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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Otters playing

Image Attribution: By Andreas Trepte (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
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