The numbers of birds in the wild are declining, due to a lack of natural food sources and habitats. This can hopefully be improved, and people are already increasing survival rates by attracting birds to their gardens with food and safe nesting areas. It's also a pleasure to watch wild birds in your garden, and they'll keep coming back if they know that you'll have some goodies left out for them each day.
Popular garden birds
There are many wild bird species, and here's a list of a few of the most popular species that you may find in your garden all year round:
The dunnock is a small grey and brown bird, sometimes called the hedge sparrow. The name dunnock comes from the word 'dunnakos' — meaning 'little brown one'. Dunnocks tend to live in woodland, shrubs and gardens, and build nests in low bushes. A dunnock is about the size of a robin and has a fairly bland appearance, with a streaked back and fine pointed bill. Adult dunnocks will have a grey head. They keep mainly on the ground and close to cover.
House sparrows are struggling to survive in the UK, with their numbers declining both in the garden and countryside. They are small and mainly brown and grey in colour — males have brighter black, white and brown markings than females. They live in both urban and rural areas, but tend to avoid woodland, grassland and deserted areas away from human development. They eat seeds, grains, weeds and insects, and will also eat fruit and vegetables.
Blackbirds are one of the most common birds in Britain — regularly referred to as the 'common blackbird'. Male blackbirds have bright orange or yellow beaks and eye-ring, and females are brown and will usually have streaks and spots on their breasts. They breed in woods and gardens, and make round, cup-shaped nests. Their diet consists mainly of insects, worms, berries and other fruits.
Blue tits are easily recognisable with their blue and yellow feathers. They usually live in wooded areas and nest in tree holes, although they will breed readily in nest boxes where necessary, and will be attracted to any garden that has insects, spiders and other seeds and nuts.
The Wren is a small brown bird known for singing loud, complex songs. Wrens have a plump appearance with short round wings and a short narrow tail which is sometimes held upright. They eat insects, spiders and vegetable matter, such as chopped peanuts.
The Chaffinch is the most colourful of finches in the UK. Its feathers helps it to blend in when it's feeding and when it flies you can see a flash of white on the wings and tail feathers. The chaffinch is attracted to open woodland, farmland and gardens. They prefer to feed off the ground, eating seeds and insects.
The great tit is the UK's largest in the tit family. It's green and yellow with a black head and white cheeks. They are seen regularly in gardens, but can be a little aggressive around food. During the summer they will feed mainly on insects, but will eat a wider range of foods (seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables) in the winter. They usually nest in tree holes, and are popular in parks and gardens.
The goldfinch is a colourful finch that has a bright red face and yellow patches on the wings. They will visit bird tables and feeders in the garden, and will eat seeds and nuts. They tend to nest in the outer branches of tall leafy trees, and can be found in partially wooded areas and gardens.
The robin is probably the UK's favourite bird. It has a bright red breast and is common throughout the year, especially during Christmas! They sing all year round, but can be quite aggressive when it comes to food. They are popular garden birds, and eat mainly insects, spiders, worms, berries and fruit. They will also eat seed and nut mixtures from bird tables and feeders.
The collared dove is a medium sized dove — slightly smaller than a wood pigeon. It has a slim, long tail and are grey / pinkish grey overall, with a black half-collar edged with white on the back of its neck. They live close to urban areas where there is plenty of food resources, and nest in the trees. They eat grain, seeds and insects, but will also eat other foods left out on the ground / bird tables.
Starlings are small to medium size birds. They have dark feathers with a metallic sheen. They live in the open countryside and also close to urban areas, eating mainly insects and fruits. They will be attracted to any garden that is home to plenty of insects and food, and will dig forcefully for bugs in the ground. They usually nest in holes.
The wood pigeon is a large species in the dove and pigeon family. It's feathers are mainly grey with a slightly pink breast and white on it's neck and wings. They breed in trees, parks and gardens, particularly near roads and rivers. Their diet consists of vegetables, leaves, seeds, grains, nuts and certain fruits and berries. They will usually eat anything that is left out for them.
There will be other bird species that come into your garden — these are just a handful of the wild birds you are most likely to see. If you want to be able to identify birds then you should be able to pick up a book from your local book shop/library which will detail all the different species.