Anyone new to birdwatching feeding birds in a garden will find that a surprising array of species will appear if you provide the right food and habitats. Some will come along day after day while others pop in rarely. This raises the question of what the most common birds in UK gardens actually are.
When looking at the 20 most common garden birds UK gardens can get, it helps to look at the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch results. This is a survey every January where people spend 15 minutes recording the visitors to their gardens. The combined results paint a nice picture of bird numbers and habits nationally. The RSPB just released the results for the top 10 after hearing from nearly 700,000 participants, so let’s start with those ten birds.
Here is a list of 20 of the most common garden birds:
- House Sparrow
- Blue Tit
- Great Tit
- Long-Tailed Tit
- Carrion Crow
- Collard Dove
- Coal Tit
1) House Sparrow
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the House Sparrow was the number 1 bird on the list for 2022. This is a bird that isn’t in all gardens but tends to form large family groups where successful.
You will see these mottled brown birds on feeders getting their share of fat balls and seeds and can tell the males from the female due to their darker slate plumage on their heads. You can help them regain numbers after long-term population declines by providing food and nestboxes with multiple chambers.
2) Blue Tit
Next on the list is the Blue Tit. This is a popular bird with many gardeners because of its colourful plumage and love of nest boxes.
If you get a standard nestbox for a tree or fence, there is a good chance that a Blue Tit will move in. These sweet birds, with their blend of blue and yellow feathers, will eat at the feeders, too, if House Sparrows give them time, and will also eat insects and caterpillars in the garden.
You might not expect to see this bird so high up this list because it isn’t one that we typically put food out for. However, in areas with large flocks of starlings, these family groups appear on feeders and feeding tables where there are tasty morsels on offer.
Thanks to their iridescence and speckles, the adults are easy to identify, while the juveniles aren’t so dark and glossy. It is also a good idea to look out for roosts and murmurations in urban areas.
The Woodpigeon swapped places with the Blackbird on the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch list for 2022. This may say more about the success of this bird than the decline of the Blackbird.
These gentle giants of the garden will stroll around picking up leftovers from underneath feeders and taking advantage of berries in winter. They are stocky pigeons with a nice mix of grey tones, a little green, and a thick white collar on the neck.
The Blackbird is a common garden bird in the UK, but one we may take for granted. The dark black male will provide a wonderful song in the morning and evenings and you may see him on a prominent post. The female is much paler.
One reason that they aren’t higher on the list maybe because they are ground feeders rather than species that take seed from feeding stations. They can spend their time in the undergrowth looking for fruit and insects relatively unseen.
This is another prevalent species when it comes to the most common garden birds in the UK. This cute little bird is seen on Christmas Cards and garden forks.
The latter used as a great perch to watch us as we dig up food. They can be territorial, so you probably have the same one following you each day. If you want to build on that relationship, you can try hand-feeding mealworms to this little red-breasted friend.
This is another species that has seen its fortunes improve in recent times. It has moved up a space from the 2021 list and switched places with the Great Tit. Numbers are increasing and flocks will come into gardens to feed if suitable food is available.
They particularly like niger seed and teasel. These little finches are unmistakable with the striking red and white rings on their face. You will also hear them coming as they chatter in their bouncing flight pattern.
8) Great Tit
As the name suggests, the Great Tit is the larger cousin of the Blue Tit. There is a noticeable size difference if you put the two together. But, the most distinguishing feature is the thick stripe on the chest that matches the black head.
They are bold birds that will make use of feeders and nest boxes in gardens in the same way as Blue Tits. Also, listen out for a “teacher-teacher” call from any trees in your garden.
This is a species that people either love or hate because it will predate the nests of many other species on this list. But that’s just how the natural world regulates itself.
This is a common sight in gardens as the birds pop in to see what they can eat and survey their territory. They are intellectually and physically intelligent birds and easy to identify from their pied plumage and long tail.
The last spot on the top 10 list for 2022 is where there is sure to be some disagreement. Many people will have chaffinches visiting and regular feeding, while others will see none. Like the Goldfinch, they will feed in groups and take advantage of seeds and insects on offer. The male is well-loved for the pretty mix of pink and blue plumage, but the females are pretty in their own way.
The Chaffinch finishes off the top 10 birds in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch list. Remember that this is all indicative of the average results across the country over one weekend. There are many other species that you could easily see and that may be more common in your specific garden. So, here are 10 more species to look out for.
11) Long-Tailed Tit
This bird needs to be next on this list at number 11 because it was in the RSPB top 10 for 2020. It has since slipped down in the rankings, but there is still a good chance of seeing one.
This tit is easy to determine because of its round shape, very long tail, and pink and black plumage mix. You can often see them feeding in groups in the summer, taking insects from trees, or collecting moss and lichen for nesting materials in the spring.
12) Carrion Crow
We talked about the Magpie before as a common bird that is predatory and happy to visit gardens. However, many homeowners will also find other Corvid species taking advantage of what is on offer.
Jackdaws aren’t uncommon, but you may be more likely to see the larger all-black Carrion Crow. Again, this smart bird won’t say no to scraps or unattended nests.
The Dunnock is a species that might actually be more common in gardens than the survey suggests. The problem here is that this bird has a similar size and build to the House Sparrow and similar brown plumage. So, there may be some misidentification.
However, the males have nice blue-grey heads and are worth seeking out. Watch out for them in hedgerows and put out some fat and mealworms at ground level for them.
The Wren is a pretty unmistakable bird when you spot one. It is small and round with a stubby tail that sticks upright. You might not see them often unless they are darting between hedges and shrubs.
But, you may be lucky enough to watch them trying to catch spiders and other insects. You are also likely to hear their machine-gun-fire alarm call if you or other birds get too close to a nest.
15) Collared Dove
The Woodpigeon is very common and high up the list of the most common garden birds in UK gardens because you can’t miss it when it clatters into the garden. But, there is a related bird you may also spot.
The Collared Dove is more delicate in size and features, with dusky grey feathers and a dark ring on its neck. It will behave and feed much like the Woodpigeon where it is allowed in.
16) Coal Tit
Next, we have another tit species. This one is lower on the list because it is harder to spot and much shyer. Blue Tits and Great Tits have no problem getting their spot on a feeder but Coal Tits tend to hold back and feed on more natural sources.
They may also hide when humans appear. Physically, they are similar to the Great Tit with their colouration but much smaller and with a white spot at the back of the head.
Next up, we go back to the finch family. At one point, this would have been much higher on the list, with larger flocks visiting gardens and using feeders.
However, the species has suffered due to disease. Hopes are that the species is bouncing back. You can look out for the striking yellow-green male on feeders and in trees. He is a larger finch than the others, with a powerful beak that makes short work of seeds and husks.
This is a handsome little bird whose numbers have grown significantly in recent years. There was a time when we only saw them in summer, but more and more are overwintering here, so we will see more in that RSPB count with time.
They can take advantage of gardens for food and shelter in the breeding season and supplemental food in winter. The male lives up to the name, with uniform grey plumage and a black cap, but the female’s cap is brown.
The Goldcrest is a joy to see in the winter when it arrives here from colder climates. It isn’t higher in this list because it isn’t a common sight across the UK.
However, gardens in Southern England could see this more regularly. There are two key distinguishing features here – the fact it is the smallest bird in the UK and the bright gold crest. Watch out for this as the bird flits from branch to branch in trees on the hunt for food.
Finally, we have a species that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to the most common birds spotted in gardens. This isn’t a garden bird in the same way as the other species that we feed or provide homes for. But, it isn’t uncommon for Sparrowhawks to swoop in and take a songbird or pigeon.
As with the Magpie, it is all about population control. You are more likely to see the smaller male in gardens, who is notably smaller than the brown female and has a blue head and piercing orange eyes.
Is This The Top 20 Most Common Garden Birds UK Gardens Can All Enjoy? It is important to remember that this is an average list for gardens that provide a good environment, nesting sites, and feeding opportunities. There is no guarantee that all of the top 10 birds will visit your garden or that one of the rarer ones won’t be seen more regularly. There may also be other species not mentioned here that you find yourself seeing quite regularly. It all depends on where you are in the UK, what you grow, how many mature trees you have, and the food you offer. You might have Rooks rather than Magpies, Bullfinches more than Chaffinches, or a Tawny Owl hooting from your tree each night. Whatever you do have, record it, appreciate it, and make sure they will want to keep coming back.
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