What is the most common garden bird in the UK?
The familiar twitter of British birds in the early morning is a peaceful sound. The bird species that populate our gardens range from pigeons to various members of the UK tit family. But which is the most common?
In this article, we’ll explore the most common bird species in the UK plus give you some tips to identify these common birds. At Gardeners Dream, we have an extensive range of bird food products to keep your feathered wildlife happy and healthy all year round. From sunflower seeds to suet blocks and monkey nuts, browse all our Bird Food at Gardeners Dream.
House sparrows – the most common garden birds
Every year, the RSPB launches a survey to discover the most common British birds. Residents from around the country keep their eyes peeled on their bird feeders and bird tables, counting the number of each species they spot. For the past 19 years, one bird has routinely been named the most common in the UK: the house sparrow.
This common breeding bird is fairly easy to spot. It has mottled brown feathers, with rich brown and black colours along its back and wings. The underside is a paler brown-grey and you might be able to spot the distinctive black “beard” beneath its beak.
Sparrows tend to live in large groups and will create quite an extensive family when they find a location that allows them to thrive. You may see sparrows feeding on a bird table, or taking a collective bath in a puddle or bird bath.
Best bird food for house sparrows
If your garden has a growing population of house sparrows, we recommend feeding them with a nutritious seed mix. Part of the reason why sparrows are so common is that they are very adaptable – they can catch crumbs beneath a coffee table, feast on bird seed, and even sample some small insects in your garden.
A nutritious birdseed full of grains is preferable to fat balls or whole nuts. We recommend filling bird feeders with our Premium Wild Bird Food.
10 next most common garden birds
There are many birds in the UK, some of which stay all year round and others that migrate with the seasons. Below you can find 10 more very common wild birds that you may be able to spot in your garden. From small birds to colourful bird varieties, we have an amazing array of wildlife here in Britain!
1. Blue tit
The second most common birds you might see on your garden feeders are blue tits. These small garden birds are easily spotted with their bright blue wings, white cheeks, and yellow-green bellies.
Slightly smaller than the related great tit, this bird has an average wingspan of just 18cm and weighs around 11 grams.
The blue tit enjoys birdseed along with the house sparrow, and will also peck at whole nuts. Blue tits are also a little more open to insects – including caterpillars. If you put up some nest boxes, you may find a small blue tit family moving in sooner rather than later.
Often confused with the most common British birds, the sparrows, the starling is a small bird with a distinctive mellow song. Starlings like to walk around and forage in your garden, rather than hopping and flying. You can distinguish starlings by their brown bodies, long legs, large feet, and pointed beaks.
Starlings have an impressive breeding population, often living in vast flocks and creating murmurations when they fly in synchronisation. As for diet, starlings enjoy a range of foraged insects and plant materials, like leaves and berries.
3. Wood pigeon
The wood pigeon is a common site in British gardens in rural and urban areas. Also known as the common pigeon, you can spot wood pigeons quite easily – they are large, plump birds! Distinguished from similar birds, like collared doves, wood pigeons have soft grey feathers, blue-grey heads, and a distinctive white collar.
Like the collared dove, they are significantly larger than sparrows and are sometimes considered a pest – stealing bird food that has been put out for the smaller bird varieties. Nonetheless, these birds are still very common across the UK.
One good way to feed smaller bird varieties while avoiding feeding pigeons is to use a Plastic Bird Feeder. This bird feeder is too small for pigeons but just right for the blue tit or robin.
The blackbird is common across the British Isles and is very easy to spot. It has a black head and body (or dark brown, for the females) with a bright yellow beak. Size-wise, the blackbird is larger than a tit but smaller than a pigeon, with an average wingspan of 36cm which is fairly close to that of a starling.
The blackbird favours foraging for worms and other insects on the ground, though it may also feast on berries and other wild fruits in the winter when the ground freezes over.
Blackbird songs are very melodic and pleasant – you can hear them in gardens, over agricultural land, and in city parks.
With a bright red chest, the robin is a colourful member of the Old World flycatchers and chats family. Though commonly associated with the winter months and Christmas cards, robins live in the UK all year. During winter, robins from further north in Europe may migrate to the south of England in particular, to seek warmer conditions. This may be why you see more robins at this time of year!
Perched on a garden fence or hiding in a hedgerow, robin birds are highly territorial so if one family moves into your garden, they won’t be joined by another. Furthermore, robins are quite shy and cannot be easily approached. They startle easily.
Along with the other smaller birds on our list, the Robin weighs no more than 20g. They prefer to eat a diet of worms and insects but will be thankful for bird seed in the winter when food is scarce. Try our Robin and Songbird Seed Mix.
6. Great tit
Great tits are small birds, roughly 14cm in length and weighing 18g each. Like other tits, they have plump bodies, white cheeks, and slender legs. The great tit is distinguished by its yellow body and single black stripe down its belly.
In the warmer months, great tits will forage for food on the ground – they like insects and worms. They will also feed off bird seed left in a feeder or on a table, especially in the colder months.
Nesting in tree holes in tree trunks, great tit birds will live anywhere in the UK so long as there are trees nearby. They are less common in urban areas as a result.
The goldfinch lives across the UK mainland and Northern Ireland. It is easily identified by the yellow stripe on its wing as it flies by. The bright yellow wing patch contrasts with its hazel brown body, black tail, and bright red face. You can listen out for their quiet, trilling birdsong.
Unlike the robin, these birds are built to feast on seeds. Their bill shape helps them pluck seeds from plants and thistles, so providing some bird seed will also keep them happy. Goldfinches are also known to eat dandelions, burdock, and other plants in your garden that might be weeds – our horticulturalists love goldfinches!
Easily recognised for its large body and black-white design with shimmering blue tones, the magpie is found in parks and gardens across the UK. A member of the Crow family, they are sociable and highly intelligent birds that will take advantage of whatever food source is available.
Like carrion crows, magpies will eat smaller mammals including small fledglings and eggs when they have the opportunity. They will also feed off any seeds or nuts that you leave out, as well as forage for insects, fruits and nuts that are naturally available in your garden.
Although number 9 on our list and number 10 overall of the most common birds, the Chaffinch is still a pretty common sight across the UK. This species is identified by a gorgeous chestnut brown colour across the belly and face, with a blue-grey “hat” and flecked black tail.
Chaffinches are most common in wooded areas, but will also be quite happy visiting park areas and gardens that have a tree or tall shrub for shelter. They prefer to eat seeds and insects, particularly caterpillars.
10. Long-Tailed tit
The long-tailed tit has a long tail, of course! Like others in the tit family, like the coal tit and other tits on this list, it is small in size but is full of character. It has a very small and rotund body with a black and white head stripe and an elegant long tail to help it balance.
The long-tailed tit eats a diet of eggs and larvae left by insects, though it will also feed off spiders and caterpillars in your garden. Provide these birds with plenty of seed in the winter when food is scarce.
What is the most common bird in the UK in 2022?
We have numerous birds that come into our gardens, from the great tit to the blue tit, but it’s the common house sparrow that is the most common of all the garden birds. In 2022, the House Sparrow has been the most common for 19 years running, according to the RSPB!
What is a common British bird?
Found hopping in gardens, parks, fields and everywhere in between, common British birds include the colourful blue tits, small coal tit, and easily recognisable collared dove. To be a native British bird, the species must reside in the UK for most (if not all) of the year.
What is the rarest UK garden bird?
The rarest birds you can find in UK gardens are usually migratory birds that spend the majority of their time elsewhere. Birds such as the nightingale and European Honey Buzzard are increasingly rare in the UK as they visit less and less.
What should you feed birds in the garden?
Depending on the species of British birds, different bird food will suit. You can’t go wrong with sunflower hearts and mixed birdseed, which will please any of the small varieties on our list. At Gardeners Dream, we recommend using a Nutritious Bird Feed for all bird types or choosing a specific bird feed for the species you see most in your garden.
What are the most common garden birds in Scotland?
According to RSPB, the 10 most common birds in Scotland in 2022 are roughly the same as the whole of the UK results. House sparrow is the most common, followed by starlings and blue tits.