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Garden Bird Guide

A wide variety of birds visit the gardens of our homes all year round for supplementary feeding. When natural food supplies are at their lowest the birds will visit your garden more often. Here is a quick guide to the most common birds you will see in your garden and their preferred tasty treats. Although many mixes are designed to attract a particular species the general rule is the more variety you can offer the wider range of species you will attract.

Blackbird

The most common thrush in British gardens, medium-sized, brash and noisy, the Blackbird uses our gardens to feed, roost and breed.

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Song Thrush

Britain’s most common ‘spotted’ thrush and arguably one of its sweetest singers, this medium-sized thrush is also well known for its snail bashing activities in our gardens.

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Fieldfare

Fieldfares are one of two European thrush species to arrive in Britain in winter in huge numbers escaping the colder winters further north and east in their breeding grounds. Most often encountered at the coast on migration or in wooded countryside in large flocks they will occasionally visit gardens in hard weather conditions.

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Robin

Perhaps Britain’s best known garden bird; full of character and despite its strong associations with winter via its frequent use on Christmas Cards it is a resident breeding bird in Britain.

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House Sparrow

This much-loved scruffy ‘townie’ of British gardens has undergone a large decline in recent decades as a result of loss of insect food to feed young and loss of nest sites as older houses disappear.

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Tree Sparrow

In Britain the Tree Sparrow is the country cousin of the House Sparrow and the population declined alarmingly during the 20th century though some areas have seen a recovery in recent years as a result of nest box schemes.

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Dunnock

Once known as the Hedge Sparrow the Dunnock is actually a member of the accentor family and is a common garden visitor, creeping mouse-like through leaf litter, wings and tail flicking as it dashes through vegetation.

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Blue Tit

Most common and most familiar member of the tit family to visit garden feeders in Britain, its bold behaviour makes it a garden favourite.

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Coal Tit

Mainly associated with conifer woodlands the rise in Coal Tit numbers has increasingly brought them into gardens in winter months.

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Great Tit

The largest member of Britain’s Tit family the Great Tit is a frequent and familiar garden bird. Prominent at feeders and bird tables alike, Great Tits are year-round visitors to many gardens.

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Greenfinch

Large cross-looking ‘green finch’ common in parks and gardens throughout Britain

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Bullfinch

Bullfinch numbers have begun to recover in some parts of Britain after earlier declines and they can often be found exploiting garden feeders. Bullfinches are the largest of the finch species to visit most gardens in Britain.

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Chaffinch

One of Britain’s most common breeding birds and the most colourful of the resident finches the Chaffinch is a frequent visitor to suburban and country gardens.

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Wood Pigeon

Europe’s largest pigeon, the scourge of farmers but as population has increased over the last century it is widespread even in towns and city parks.

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Collared Dove

Since the 1950’s Collared Doves have replaced the Turtle Dove as the most widespread small dove species in Britain and are now frequent garden visitors and breeders.

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Goldfinch

This small beautifully marked finch adds a splash of bright colour even on dull days. They often occur in large groups known as ‘charms’ in winter months .

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Long-Tailed Tit

A close relative of the tit family the Long-tailed Tit is the fluff-ball darling of garden feeding. Often in large flocks or tribes its long-tailed appearance, diminutive size and acrobatic behaviour provide the ‘ahh factor’.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker

The most common of the three British Woodpecker species and the most likely to visit garden feeders. A resident in mature woodland, parks and gardens. Males, females and juveniles can all be told apart.

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Nuthatch

Mainly a species of mature, deciduous woodland the Nuthatch is a specialist climber manoeuvring up, down and even upside down on branches and tree trunks in search of food.

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Siskin

While mainly a ‘pine forest’ finch Siskins have recently expanded their range in Britain and are now established as occasional visitors to garden feeders.

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Sparrowhawk

Much maligned the Sparrowhawk preys on other garden birds often touring garden feeding stations to pick off the sick and the slow. A fantastic avian predator Sparrowhawks offer a fantastic insight into the predator/prey relationships of wild birds in your own garden.

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Starling

Once a common sight in most gardens the Starling has declined significantly in recent decades. Its awkward walk and reputation as a bit of a bully at the bird table mean it gets a bad press from many but look closer and the Starling has an incredibly colourful plumage and its mimicry skills are legendary.

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Magpie

Distinctive black and white member of the crow family that seems to attract as many haters as lovers due to its habits of plundering the nests of smaller birds during the breeding season.

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Wren

Wrens may be small but they bring a big character to the garden. A resident of woodland with dense undergrowth they often appear in gardens, zipping from perch to perch.

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Jay

The shyest but most colourful member of the crow family likely to be encountered in Britain. A woodland dweller the Jay does appear in gardens but is cautious around man.

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Lesser Redpoll

The commonest of the ‘Redpoll’ group of species in Britain and Ireland. Lesser Redpolls are one of the small, brown finches that many beginners struggle with. Increasingly found in gardens, they are mainly arboreal and quite tit-like in their behaviour.

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Mistle Thrush

The largest thrush to breed in Britain with longer wings and tail than the Song Thrush and the winter-visiting Fieldfare. Known as the ‘storm cock’ in many parts of England due to it’s tendency to sing as a storm approaches.

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