Garden birds

Garden birds

Over recent years, numbers of our once-common garden birds have dropped dramatically in the wake of increased development, intensification of farming, and habitat loss - by up to 71% for some birds.

Learn how you can help and how to identify different birds below.

Fergus Gill/2020VISION

Help the birds in your garden

Garden birds do have a lifeline - your garden. Together, the 16 million gardens across the UK form an area for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves. This patchwork of habitats helps our wildlife to move about freely, forming a vast living landscape that links urban green spaces with the wider countryside. Encouraging birds to visit your garden is easy and a great way to help! 

Click here for tips on how to encourage wildlife into your garden.

Help the birds in your area

We manage over 3,096 acres of reserves which are havens for rare and threatened species and habitats. We give wildlife a voice, campaigning on wildlife issues and focusing on protecting local wildlife.

The best way to help us is through membership. Our 28,000 members are critical to all the work we do to protect local wildlife - click here to learn more about membership and how you can get involved.

There are a whole range of other ways to help. If you want to find out more about how you can help us help local wildlife, please visit the Support Us page.

Which birds am I likely to see in my garden?

Typically, males are more distinguishable than females. Click through to browse the species pages for more details about these birds. The UK's 10 most common garden visitors are:

A male house sparrow singing from guttering in an urban garden

Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

House sparrow

Males (pictured) are streaky brown above and grey below, with chestnut-and-white wings, a black bib and a grey cap. Females and juveniles are duller.

A starling shining green and purple in the sunshine

Mark Robinson

Starling

Adults (pictured) are oily-black with a purple-and-green sheen, and tiny, beige spots in winter. Juveniles are dark grey-brown.

A blue tit perched on a lichen-covered twig

Andy Rouse/2020VISION

Blue tit

Greeny-blue above and yellow below, with a blue cap, white cheeks, black eye-stripes, and a blue tail and wings.

A male blackbird standing in green grass

Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Blackbird

Males (pictured) are black with a yellow bill and a yellow ring around each eye. Females and juveniles are dark brown.

A wood pigeon perched on a fence post asleep

Amy Lewis

Woodpigeon

Grey above, with a pink breast, white neck patch and white patches on the wings.

A goldfinch standing to attention on a tree branch

Peter Smith

Goldfinch

Gingery-brown above and pale below, with black-and-yellow wings, a black crown, white cheeks and a red face.

A chaffinch on the ground in a garden

Fergus Gill/2020VISION

Chaffinch

Males have blue-grey crowns, brown backs and pink breasts. Females are brown, with white shoulder patches and wingbars.

A great tit standing on a corrugated garden roof

Mark Robinson

Great tit

Green above and yellow below, with a black head, white cheeks, and a black stripe down its breast.

A robin sitting on a tree branch and singing

Robin

Brown above, with a white belly and red breast. Juveniles are mottled gold and brown.

A long-tailed tit standing on a wooden stick

Bob Coyle

Long-tailed tit

Black, white and pink above, and pale pink below, with a long, black-and-white tail, a white head, and a broad, black stripe above the eye.

Other species that visit gardens include carrion crows, magpies, jackdaws, collared doves, dunnocks, wrens, song thrushes, greenfinches, coal tits, swifts, house martins, and green and great spotted woodpeckers. Find out more about these birds on our species explorer.

Which rarer birds might visit?

If you live close to countryside, you might find traditional farmland or woodland species visiting, particularly in winter when food is scarce. Look out for chiffchaffs, siskins, yellowhammers, bullfinches, nuthatches, treecreepers, lesser redpolls, tawny owls, sparrowhawks, jays, cuckoos, mistle thrushes, blackcaps, goldcrests and pied flycatchers.

Winter garden visitors may also include migrant bramblings, waxwings, redwings and fieldfares. If you have a pond in the garden, you might find herons and other waterbirds popping in.

How can I encourage birds to visit my garden?

Whether you have a small, city patch or acres of fields, you can encourage birds to visit your garden:

  • Put out suitable food on a bird table and in feeders – even one that sticks to a window will do the trick!
  • Birds eat different things: try seeds for sparrows and finches, fat balls for tits, and fruit and worms for thrushes and robins. As long as it’s not mouldy, you can also pop out leftovers like fruit cake, unsalted nuts, and over-ripe apples and pears.
  • The amount of food you need to supply will vary depending on the season and weather; try to put out only what will get eaten, so there’s nothing left to go off.
  • Don’t forget to provide fresh water (in a saucer or even a bin lid will do), and make sure you clean feeders and tables regularly to avoid disease.
  • Provide places for birds to nest and rest safely by planting native trees and shrubs, or putting up nest boxes.

How can I help birds?

The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of birds. By volunteering for your local Trust, you can help too!

Volunteer

Cain Scringemour

Wildlife gardening

Explore facts and tips to encourage wildlife into your garden.

Learn more

Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Vine House Farm bird food

Vine House Farm is an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm, which gives 4% of all its takings from the sale of bird food, feeders, bird tables, baths and nest boxes to The Wildlife Trusts.

Feed the birds

Ben Hall/2020VISION