Top 10 Most Common Birds In The UK

The UK is home to an abundant variety of birds. From the tiny wren to the giant osprey, 1,021 recorded species in Great Britain and its surrounding waters can be found here.

The beautiful song of the skylark fills the air on a summer's morning, but have you ever stopped to wonder why so many birds are found everywhere? Whether they are migrating because it is currently the nesting season or their population numbers are growing, these are the ten avian species that are the most common wild birds seen (and heard) across the whole island and in nearby waters. 

Whether you're a casual garden birdwatcher or taking part in the big garden birdwatch, here are the birds you'll most likely see. 

Top 10 Most Common Birds In The UK:

10: Magpie

a magpie stood on grass

One of the most intelligent birds out there, magpies, will warn smaller birds of the presence of a predator before going after whatever it is themselves. They also like stealing shiny things - this means that if you've lost your car keys, then look no further than your garden hedge. This bird lives all over England and would likely find its way into Scotland, too; unfortunately, they kill small songbirds by plucking all but the head off them.

9: Long-tailed Tit

long tailed tit sat on a branch

Like blue tits, long-tailed tits come in two main types; greyish-brown ones with stripes on their heads and blackish-grey ones without much going on. They tend to be found nesting in the same bushes as blue tits if you are looking for one. They don't have many predators due to their small size and ability to nest at such high altitudes, which is why you can sometimes see them peering out of tree holes.

8: Robin

a robin sat on a metal garden ornament

Another bird that you might hear but not see very often, robins, are famous for their beautiful redbreasts. These little birds tend to make various noises throughout the year, especially during the breeding season. This means they can be seen flitting about gardens now and again - if you're lucky. They also have complex mating rituals involving bowing and 'puffed up' behaviour from both genders at different times. Here's everything you need to know about Robins.

7: Great Tit

a great tit looking head on at the camera, whilst sat on a branch

Great tits (the correct term for all members of this species) are known for their loud calls and can be found nesting in trees or bushes in most parts of England; they tend to scold anyone who disturbs their nests when breeding season comes around. They also like stinging insects such as bees, wasps and hornets - but not honeybees; they squabble over these things with other great tits, and the bees don't stand a chance.

6: Goldfinch

a goldfinch sat on a flower

Originating from central Europe and northern Asia, goldfinches were first brought over to Britain by Thomas Farynor during the 17th century. He discovered them on a sea voyage back from Italy and kept them as canaries, according to legend. If you are lucky, then one day it might be able to chirp its name at you! It is easy enough to identify by the bright yellow feathers that comprise most of its body. Goldfinches nest late in the year, through July and August, so can be a good species to look out for fledglings later in the year.

5: Blackbird

blackbird sat on a branch

The blackbird is known for its beautiful song, which you probably hear every morning in your garden if you live near one. It can be identified by its brown feathers and bright orange beak; the male blackbirds are much more colourful than the females, but both tend to hide in bushes away from prying eyes. They like to make nests out of mud on top of high branches, usually around 1.5 to 2 metres above ground (just like wood pigeons do), meaning they too often come into contact with humans who cut back trees.

4: Woodpigeon

a side profile image of a wood pigeon sat on a wall

The second most reported species in Britain, wood pigeons, are usually found nesting in fields across the countryside. They have been spotted all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not many people would know it was them unless they were told where to look or saw one with their own eyes. These birds tend to make their nests out of twigs and leaves high up in trees where potential predators can't reach them; unfortunately, this led to many breeding failures during the harsh winter of 2010.

3: Blue tit

blue tit clinging on to a twig

Just like house sparrows, blue tits were brought over from Scandinavia during the 19th century. However, unlike these small brown birds, blue tits are turquoise! They make nests in holes in trees or walls, which means they often come into contact with humans who decide to prune branches back too far. It is a good idea to leave them be; however, the moment a hole is tied shut, they will almost always move on to another part of the same tree, and you risk being covered in bird droppings from above. Here is everything you need to know about blue tits, habits, nesting and hatching.

2: Starling

starling sat on top of a bird box

Having originally come here from Russia (and Scandinavia), starlings were first brought over by French Canadian trappers during the 19th century. Unfortunately for anyone who hates seeing these black and yellow birds, they are very resilient and have adapted to city life quite well. Their distinctive chattering calls can identify them, but the sheer volume in any given year makes it hard to pick out one sound from another. There is no real need for worry about starlings either; they only really look spooky due to their vast numbers and tendency to swarm on rooftops.

1: House sparrow

house sparrow

Like any other country in Western Europe, England houses sparrows, small brown birds with grey rumps. However, they have been disappearing from the British Isles in recent years due to a lack of food and nesting areas. They have been displaced by greylag geese which now occupy gardens and parks that used to be full of house sparrow nests, as well as other green spaces where insects reigned supreme. This is quite a problem because these birds are sometimes considered flying rats due to their tendency to live in close quarters with humans; this has also led them to become an indicator species for agricultural biodiversity.


Bonus: The bird that almost made the list!

11: Swallow

swallow sat on a branch

Swallows are exceptionally well known for something everyone thinks they know about them but don't. They are not, in fact, the only bird that builds nests out of mud. However, they can be found all over Europe and northern Asia, making their homes on roofs or rafters when nesting time rolls around. Once the young have left the nest, they spend most of their lives in the sky, hunting insects in an exciting fashion - swarms of juvenile swallows will even fly very high up into thunderclouds. Here is how to tell the difference between swallows, starlings and house martins

How many have you seen?

Well, there you have it, the Top 10 most common birds in the UK, how many have you spotted in your garden?

What are the rarest birds in the UK?

Here are the rarest UK bird species that are much less commonly seen but do appear in the country. Check out the list to see how many you've seen.


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