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PMcS 2006


Bird species
(by English name)

Go to the main birds page.

This is a  list of the bird species that you can predictably observe in Britain, if you go to the right place at the right time.  Of course that place may be your garden or your local park, so keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the experience of spotting something new. 

There are many other species that visit these shores, as passage migrants or because they have been blown off course, but they are the domain of the extreme birders (known as 'twitchers')


English Name Scientific Name General observations and comments (not all comments yet completed!)
Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni -
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus -
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea -
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta This elegant black and white wader with a long upturned bill is well worth a special trip if you've never seen one before.  Now regularly seen at several RSPB wetland reserves, this bird is used in their corporate logo.
Barn Owl Tyto alba A silent hunter with a ghostly form. Possible to see during the day at dusk on rough farmland as it patrols fields for small mammals.
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis -
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria Rare one this. Rather a small brown job (sbj) - but the striped front makes it distinguishable from the other sbj warblers.
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica One of the largest waders in Britain.  As the name suggests is can be identified by the strips on its tail.  It has a long straight bill and is found feeding in estuarine mud.
Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus -
Bean goose
Anser fabalis  
Bee-eater Merops apiaster An occasional visitor to these shores. However you should be able to see this beauty around the Mediterranean, often flying in small flocks and somewhat resembling a large starling in silhouette. Has a fluty call.
Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus -
Bittern Botaurus stellaris Famous for its deep booming call\song. Only found in a few reedy wetlands and very hard to spot.  Bitterns are members of the heron family but unlike the grey heron are tawny, mottled brown and very well camouflaged for their reed bed habitat.
Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix -
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros -
Black Tern Chlidonias niger -
Blackbird Turdus merula Maybe our best loved songster found just about everywhere where there are gardens, parklands or countryside. Will sing from a lofty perch such as a roof top. Male is black with a vivid yellow beak, but the female is a much duller brown. This brown colour provides better camouflage especially during the nesting period.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla A relatively common summer warbler, that is being increasingly found to over winter in Britain. It will come to bird tables if you are lucky.  Both sexes are a dull grey.  The male has a black cap on its head whilst the female's cap is brown.
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Common in urban areas and on farmland following the plough. In winter it loses its chocolate brown head colouring almost entirely.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa One of the largest waders in Britain.  As the name suggests is can be distinguished for the bar tailed godwit by the black tail feathers.  It has a long straight bill and is found feeding in estuarine mud.
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus Extremely common in gardens, hedgerows and woodlands. Loves to feed at peanuts where it often competes with the larger great tits. This species will happily adopt a well sited nest box. Make sure that the hole is not too big or other birds and mammals may prey on the young. Although clutches are often upto 10 eggs there is a very high mortality rate and a successful season may see one young survive beyond a year.
Brambling Fringill montifringilla A winter bird species that roams around in mixed finch and tit flocks. A big fan of beech mast.
Brent goose
Branta bernicla -
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula Bullfinches only ever have one partner and stay faithful to one another. Hence you will generally see them in pairs. The male finch has a stunning red breast while the female is more pink-brown. They are notorious for eating the buds off of fruit trees and hence have in the past been exterminated for this.
Buzzard Buteo buteo This large bird of prey is becoming more and more common now that it is not so heavily persecuted. It has learnt that there are rich pickings by the road side where rabbits and pheasants make abortive road crossings! Hence these birds can now be seen perched on fences on the side of the motorway. Other than red kites a big bird of prey seen circling, and mewing, will generally be a buzzard.
Canada Goose Branta canadensis This now common goose is an introduction from...yes, Canada. It has actually become a pest in some parks and is often controlled.
Carrion Crow Corvus corone The carrion crow (normally just known as a "crow") is common on farmland but is still legally controlled by farmers.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cettia This species is unusual for a warbler in that it stays in southern Britain all year round. It skulks in reed beds and refuses to be seen. However its strident burst of song (more a series of cascading notes) gives it away.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs Extremely common the colourful male rather over shadows the dowdy female. In spring is short cascade of notes is a sure sign of spring. In winter it joins other species in large flocks looking for food in hedgerows.
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita One of the first summer migrants to return, the chiffchaff is named after its song. It is a herald of spring. It is found in areas where there is scrub or woodland.
Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Now extremely rare, breeding pairs are more easily found on the welsh coast on cliffs. This dainty crow can be easily distinguished from other crows by its curved red bill.
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus -
Coal Tit Parus ater A smaller member of the tit family this rather shy bird can be attracted to bird tables. It can be distinguished from other similar tits by the white patch on the back of its otherwise black head.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto In the last thirty years this species has become the most common dove and will readily visit gardens and coo from roof tops . It has only three notes in its "song" as oppose to the wood pigeon which stutters out four.
Common Gull Larus canus -
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos A small wader which breeds near uplands streams where it hunts for insects.
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra -
Common Tern Sterna hirundo Terns are amongst the most beautiful and dainty of sea birds and are sometimes known as 'sea swallows'. Their sleek lines and forked tails make them stand out from other gulls type birds. Common terns have black heads in summer and are the species most likely to be seen. They are summer visitors, having over wintered on the west coast of Africa. Terns are amongst the most travelled species in the bird world, covering vast distances in their lifetimes.
Coot Fulica atra Coots are extremely common where there is largish body of fresh water, such as park lakes and reservoirs. They are extremely aggressive to each other and often to everything else. Unless being fed bread they will tend to keep a certain distance from each other.
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo This large black bird is quite common on inland water When not diving for fish it sits around on prominent points. As the cormorant lacks oil glands it dries its wings by opening them out in a crucifix stance.
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra Known for its rattling key song this farmland bird is threatened by changing in farming practice which have seen a reduction in stubble fields left over winter.
Corncrake Crex crex Extremely rare breeding farmland bird which has an extremely distinctive call. It is shy to the point of having a social problem and is difficult to spot!
Crane Grus grus These large beautiful birds are fairly widespread on the continent and are now becoming frequently seen in the Norfolk Broads.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata -
Crested Tit Parus cristatus -
Crossbill Loxia curvirostra The unusual feature of this bird is its beak tips which cross in order to enable it to cut open pine cones and extract the nuts.  Lives in conifer forests.  The male is red in colour, as oppose to the brown and more dowdy female.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus Everyone knows the song of this bird but not many know that its song varies from bird to bird and can be quite distinctive. Late to arrive and early to leave the adult birds are only seen in Britain in summer. The adults in fact leave for Africa a month before their off spring. The single chick is raised by foster parents (often the same species as the adult cuckoo was raised by. It in fact pushes out any other eggs in the host nest laid by the host birds before they get a chance to hatch. The nestling then grows up and usually dwarfs its parents by the time it fledges. Common host species include reed warblers and dunnocks.
Curlew Numenius arquata One of our larger waders, the curlew's downwards pointing bill and 'curlew' call make this species quite easy to identify. In summer it can be found on open county such as moorland but in autumn it join other wader species on Britain's estuaries.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea -
Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla -
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata One of only two warblers to over winter in Britain as the norm (the other is the Cetti's warbler).  This rarity can be found only on a few southern heaths (e.g. in the New Forest) where it sings its scratchy song from a gorse bush  It has a red front, blue-grey head and a long tail.
Dipper Cinclus cinclus Dippers feed in fast flowing streams - literally.  They can be seen bobbing up and down on a rock with a noticeable white belly flashing. They dive in and 'swim' below the water after submerged insects, only to emerge once more amidst the white water.
Dotterel Charadrius morinellus -
Dunlin Calidris alpina -
Dunnock (a.k.a Hedge sparrow) Prunella modularis One of the few bird species that still has an alternative name ('hedge sparrow') commonly used. This skulking species is quite common in gardens feeding on seeds and insects. It truly is a small brown job but has rich colouring and patterning when seen close up. Apparently males are extremely promiscuous and mating is an extraordinarily quick process almost too quick to be seen if you blink!
Eider Somateria mollissima Eider ducks are the original source of down for pillows. These are beautiful and sleek sea faring ducks that are extremely hardy.
Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove Columba livia Everyone knows the town pigeon and many hate them. Descended and sometimes very similar from their rock dove ancestors they have found buildings to resemble their original habitats and have thrived in our messy cities.
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris Along with Redwings these large attractive thrushes can be seen in parks, gardens and open countryside during winter. They come over from Scandinavia and can often be heard at night, whilst flying overhead, with a high pitched call. The harder the weather the more likely they are to come into gardens and can be attracted by fallen fruit.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla A winter migrant which resembles a goldcrest but the band of colour across its head is orange rather than yellow.
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis Cliff nesting sea birds which have a very characteristic way of flying and gliding, with long stiff wings.
Gadwall Anas strepera -
Gannet Morus bassanus This is a larger sea birds with a white body, yellow head and a large wing span. It is famous for its spectacular dive bombing into the sea after fish with its wings folded back. It nests on cliff and rock stacks and only has one chick a year.
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin The garden warbler is rather dower summer migrant found in most commonly in woodlands. Its song is very similar to a blackcap but is higher, more sustained and it does not repeat phrases.
Garganey Anas querquedula -
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus -
Goldcrest Regulus regulus Britain's smallest bird, the goldcrest will often move around during winter in flocks with tits. Their song is a high pitched whirring whistle, which rises and ends in a emphatic repeated phrase.
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria -
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula A very attractive wintering visitor, this duck can be readily distinguished by the male's golden coloured eye and a white patch in front of the eye on an otherwise dark green head.
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis The most beautiful of our finches with a red face and gold wing bar. Usually seen in flocks outside the breeding season flying with a swooping flight calling with a musical twitter as it goes. Goldfinches are often spotted on thistles feeding on their small seeds.
Goosander Mergus merganser -
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis -
Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia This is a rather unspectacular warbler (smb) but is exciting if you find one as it is relatively rare.  It gives itself away by its distinction song.  The song sounds just like a fishing rod being reeled in - very strange.
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus This is a common species on coasts and in many inland sites too.  It is the largest of the white fronted 'seagulls' as has a dark back and yellow bill.  It is quite aggressive when in competition with other gulls.
Great Bustard Otis tarda This species is now extinct in Britain, although there are experiments to reintroduce it to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.  The size of a turkey it is a creature of big open plains and was hunted out many years ago in Britain.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus We can thank this beautiful bird for a reawakening of a broad wildlife appreciation in Britain.  It was only the near extinction of the GCG in Victorian times, that alerted sympathetic individuals to the nature conservation cause.  Its feathers were much prized as hat decoration (?) and this lead to a population crash.  It can now be found in most areas where there is a significant stand of inland open water.  Its elegance makes it rather exotic and with its balletic mating dance this is a bird worth special attention.
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor ???Now a rarity, the GGS is a hunter of large insects bees and even small animals such as lizards.  It is known as the butcher bird for spiking its pray into thorns forming a larder.
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer -
Great Skua Catharacta skua -
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Of the two black, white and red British woodpeckers this is the largest and most common.  In spring its distinctive tapping of wood can heard and helps you to spot it.  If you tap a tree with a stick you may get one to come and investigate you!  The holes of woodpeckers are used by other birds for their nests in following years.  All woodpeckers have a distinctive undulating flight which helps to identify them.
Great Tit Parus major A common garden visitor this is the largest of our tit species.  It has many different calls of which the most well know is the distinctive 'teacher teacher' call.  This call is often a sign of spring. The male has a wider black stripe running down its yellow front than the similar female.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus Small and rather indistinctive brown upper and white lower feathered wader.  Has a short bill.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis The largest of our woodpeckers and very different from the other two species.  Mainly green with a red head stripe, this is the bird with the loud laughing yaffle call.  It is normally seen as it feeds on ants on lawns and open grassland.
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris A regular visitor to bird feeders the male is mainly green and has a liking for singing from the tops of trees.  It has a twittering song which ends in a rather nasal drawn out 'dzweee' note.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia A mid sized wader with green legs and grey bill.  Similar to the red shank.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Everyone knows the heron.  Large grey, black and white water bird that waits patiently at the waters edge for its next meal of fish or frog to appear.
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix -
Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius -
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Mid sized wader of a similar build to a lapwing but very different in colouration.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea Like all wagtails, this species does indeed frequently wag its long tail feathers.  Inspite of its name, it has a beautiful yellow belly in summer and a black chin.  However its back is grey.  It is normally seen near water feeding on insects and flitting between bank and semi submerged river stones.
Greylag Goose Anser anser One of the more common winter geese species that visits our coasts.  Feeds on grass.  Many individuals are escapees which have naturalised.
Guillemot Uria aalge An elegant coastal bird which is most easily seen whilst nesting on selected cliffs in summer.  It has a chocolate brown head and neck, back and wings.  Its all black bill in slender and pointed.
Hawfnch Coccothraustes coccothraustes Uncommon and hard to spot this finch is particularly noted for its relatively large bill.  It feeds on fruit stones in the tree tops.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus Large bird of prey of open uplands.  Has a characteristic floaty and ponderous flight and an overall grey colouration.
Herring Gull Larus argentatus argenteus -
Hobby Falco subbuteo The size of a kestrel this super fast and elegant summer migrant is many birders favourite hawk.  It feeds on airborne prey such as dragon flies and small birds.  It may even use your bird table as a snack bar!  It is not normally seen to hover like a kestral.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus Rare and large bird of prey.
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix Like a regular crow but with a large part of its body grey (head and wings are grey).
Hoopoe Upupa epops A rare visitor to these shores.  Exotic looking mainly pink and white bird with a plaintive 'hoopoo' call.
House Martin Delichon urbica House martins are the chirpy little summer migrants that nest under the eves of houses in their mud creations.  They are black and white and have a stubby forked tail.  Normally they fly in flocks, sometimes numbering hundreds, feeding off insects while chirping to each other.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus The 'cockney sparrow' has drastically declined over the last few years and now they are quite uncommon in many places.  When once they cleared out the food from bird tables you are lucky to have them visit!  Their decline is not yet understood.   It is a good idea to encourage these communal nesters with specially designed nest boxes.

They are similar in appearance to the closely related tree sparrow.  The male has a grey head rather then the full brown head of the tree sparrow male.

Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus Similar to the snipe but smaller, rarer and with a shorter bill.
Jackdaw Corvus monedula This garrulous member of the crow species is often seen on roof tops squabbling.  it has a more upright stance than other crows, has a grey head and is smaller.  It can cause problems as it is fond of nesting in chimneys.
Jay Garrulus glandarius Know as the denizen of the wood this crow is very colourful and makes a loud warning call when disturbed.  With its pink wings and blue flash on the wing it does appear quite exotic.  Jays often puzzle people not familiar with it into thinking that something rare has been spotted.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus -
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Commonly seen hovering by roadsides hunting for small mammals this is the hawk people are most familiar with.
King Eider Somateria spectabilis -
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Kingfishers are well known for their unmistakeable brilliant iridescent blue and orange coloration, but are often missed as they dart by along a river giving out their high pitched calls.  The bird rewards patience and is well worth the wait.  It is a small bird that habitually perches on overhanging branches by water watching for a catch.  It is particularly fond on perching on 'no fishing' signs so that it can be photographed by some wit! It bobs its head up and down when excited.
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla A delicate and relatively small white and light grey gull - a real favorite.  Most easily seen during the breeding season when it chooses a cliff side position safe from most predators for its nest.
Knot Calidris canutus A small wader which feeds at the sea waters edge.  The name knot may come from its habit of standing facing the oncoming waves or may simply be derived from its call.
Lapwing (a.k.a Peewit) Vanellus vanellus Also known as a 'Peewit' (from its call), this medium sized bird is more like a wader than any other particular group.  It can be found on farmland during the breeding season where it wealds through the sky in its courtship display.  It gives out a rather plaintive and very evocative call.  Its wings do flap in a stuttering beat.  As the wings are black and the lapwings body is white, this creates an impressive display.  In winter its joins other waders on the coast and inland bodies of water. It carries an elegant plume of feathers running from the back of its head.
Leach's petrel Oceanodrama leucorrhoa  
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus Similar to the greater black backed gull but smaller, has yellow (rather than pink legs as an adult) and with a lighter wings and back.
Lesser white-fronted goose Anser erythopus  
Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret -
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor The most uncommon and smallest of our three key woodpecker species.  This species is only the size of a sparrow.  Its back has more white bars than its larger cousin.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca -
Linnet Carduelis cannabina -
Little Auk Alle alle -
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Large white graceful bird similar in form to a heron.  Has only recently become quite frequent on coasts and wetlands.
Little Grebe (a.k.a Dab chick) Tachybaptus ruficollis The smallest of our grebes it occurs on most sizable bodies of open fresh water, such as lakes.  Its dark red neck and brown upper are lost to a more dowdy form during winter.  Dives for food for  up to 15 seconds.  Will surface some way from where it goes under water.
Little Gull Larus minutus -
Little Owl Athene noctua The smallest of our owls and in fact a Victorian introduction.  Can be seen during the day as it can roosts in obvious places, when you can see its brown mottled plumage.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Like a ringed plover but distinguished by the yellow ring around the eyes.
Little Stint Calidris minuta Seen only as a migrant in Britain, this is small brown wader.
Little tern Sterna albifrons  
Long-eared Owl
Asio otus -
Long-tailed Duck
Clangula hyemalis -
Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus -
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus A delightful bird always seen in flocks or pairs.  Its small white, pink and dark grey body contracts with its almost too long a tail.  As it moves through trees it constantly 'talks' to its flock with a hissy 'thisp' sound.  Its nest is the most amazing ball of lichen, moss and cobwebs.  These can more easily be found in winter when leaves have dropped from bushes.
Magpie Pica pica 'One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy' the well known magpie is one of those birds that many people still associated with.  It is seen as a vicious predator of your nestlings (this may not be a significant factor in breeding success of other birds), and a hoarder of shiny objects for its own nests.  It numbers appear to have grown in recent years and it is very noticeable due to its loud rattling alarm call.  Also it has bold black and white feathers, with long black tails.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Everyone know the mallard as it is the most frequent duck, found on almost any sizable body of fresh water.  The male is extremely attractive with an iridescent blue flash on its wing.  The female is a dowdy brown, like many ducks, as when sitting on the nest this camouflage is important to prevent predators from spotting her. Its commonest often means that it is often overlooked in this respect.
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata A spectacularly coloured duck (male only) which has escaped from captivity and now happily breeds in some locations.
Manx Shearwater Puffinis puffinus -
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus Large, rare raptor that can be spotted hunting over large wetlands.
Marsh Tit Parus palustris Very similar to the willow tit, but has a matt black head, as oppose to the willow tits glossy head.
Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris -
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis -
Merlin Falco columbarius -
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus The larger of our two native thrushes (the other one being the song thrush), the mistle thrush is also known as the storm cock.  This name is derived from its habitat of singing from lofty perches in the midst of even stormy weather.  This thrush does not repeat the phrases in its song in the same way as a song thrush does.
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus -
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Quite small black hen-like water bird.  Relatively shy in comparison to the garrulous and very common coot.  Moorhens have a red wattle on their face unlike to coots white wattle.
Mute Swan Cygnus olor This is the swan that everyone is familiar with.  They can be very aggressive when with their young (signets) particularly.  Unlike the winter migrant bewick and whooper swans, they have orange bills.
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Of all British birds the nightingale stands pretty much head and shoulders over most others for its beautiful melodic song.  This is accentuated as it happily sings at night as well as the day.  Although it is not much to look at, being a rather dull chestnut brown, it is synonymous with high summer and hence has a special place amongst bird lovers.  It can be found in dense woodland coppice, large patches of scrub in grasslands and wetlands, but also occasionally will venture out to more exposed hedgerow locations.
Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus Extremely elusive night time hunter.  This summer visitor is only found on heathland and other similar open countryside. Its churring song is the tell tale sound that there are night jars around.  They fly and swoop, scythe like,  through the half light of late evening hunting moths with a wide open mouth.
Nuthatch Sitta europaea Nuthatches are wonderful small woodland birds, with blue-grey upper and orange lower feathers, along with a black stripe through the eye above a white face.  Their long bill is used like a wood pecker probing for insects in bark, but also opening hazel nuts wedged in tree crevices.  Their distinctive strident "piew piew piew" call makes them easy to track. Its song is a fluty nasal twit-twit twit-twit twit-twit.  Nuthatches often perch head down on the side of tree.  They can be found moving round woodlands during winter in flocks with other small birds.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus Ospreys almost became extinct in Britain due to persecution, but are making a slow come back.  Loch Garten is a famous location for this large and impressive fish eating birds of prey.
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus an attractive large black and white wader with a striking long orange bill - quite unmistakable.  Usually seen in flocks by the coast, it frequently calls to its friends with a trilling almost warbling call.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Probably one of the most impressive of our birds of prey and super quick.  It has suffered in the past form persecution, and still does, as its is fond of taking pigeons in a mid flight drive bomb.
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Pheasants are introductions to Britain and thousands are bred each year.  Attractive and familiar to many who venture into the countryside, but often regarded as flying wild chickens by the less romantic birders!  Pheasants have a loud and rather alarming call as they shoot from cover when disturbed.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca  
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarellii A perky little black and white bird, often seen in towns and cities and farmyards, as it chases insects with a constantly wagging its long tail.  Has a wispy two note call.
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus  
Pintail Anas acuta Beautiful winter duck with a long white tail.  Body is darker with white band running up neck and head.
Pochard Aythya ferina A common winter duck in large water bodies, with grey body, dark front and and reddy-brown head (male).  Male also has red eye.
Puffin Fratercula arctica A well known perky sea bird that nests in cliff top rabbit holes.  Its black and white body is off set by its multicoloured bill.
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima -
Quail Coturnix coturnix -
Raven Corvus corax The largest member of the crow family confined mainly to upland areas.  Has a very distinctive loud grating "craw" call.  A wing clipped population lives at the Tower of London.
Razorbill Alca torda A stumpy black and white sea bird most easily seen when nesting on cliffs with other birds such as guillemots.  Its bill is deeper than the slender guillemot's bill.
Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus Encouraged to breed in thousands this ruddy-brown bird inhabits the uplands and feeds on gorse.  Is the favourite target of moorland shoots.
Red Kite Milvus milvus A fabulous large ruddy bird of prey of similar proportions to a buzzard but distinguished by its forked tail.  Now particularly thriving in Thames valley and Wales following reintroductions.  Was heavily persecuted in the past and that is still a danger.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio Rare smallish bird famous for predating on bees and lizards and storing them in "larders", which are thorns on twigs.
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator  
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus  
Redshank Tringa totanus A medium sized wader with characteristic straight long red bill and legs (shank means leg).  Wings are speckled brown in summer and rest of the wader is white.  Winter plumage is more dowdy.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus A delightful summer visitor which lives in broad leaved woodlands.  Resembles a robin in size and form but colouration is different.  Nests in holes in trees.
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata
Redwing Turdus iliacus One of two winter only thrushes.  (the other being a Fieldfare).  Redwings and small thrushes with red patch under the wing and a noticeable white eye stripe.  They are always in mixed flocks and can often be heard over head at night by their fluty whistle as they move around.  Quite shy birds which feed on berries.
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus Most frequently seen n wetland habitats this bunting has an upright stance.  The male has a black head with a long white moustache.
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus.scirpaceus As its name suggests this summer warbler frequents reed beds and water side habitats where its fluty grating rapid song can be easily heard.  A shy bird that is more likely to be seen rather than heard.  Its is a rather dull looking brown bird anyway!
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus Uncommon upland version of a black bird with white bib.
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula A small wader that feeds at the waters edge often singly.  It has a short bill and rings of black around its face and head, but it otherwise has tawny upper and white lower feathers.
Robin Erithacus rubecula Everyone knows what a robin looks like.  It is often heard singing in gardens and parks, even at night where there are bright lights.  Robins are very aggressive to the point of fighting to the death, so if you see two robins happily feeding together then they are a breeding pair.  There is a tremendous amount of folk lore relating to robins.  They are associated with Christ, having gotten their red feathers when a robin pulled a thorn from Christ's crown of thorns.  It is thought to be very unlucky to kill a robin and it is said that if a robin enters the house then someone will shortly die in that house.  Robins are very tame in Britain and will quickly come to a gardener who may be inadvertently digging up worms.  They are actually woodland birds.
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus -
Rook Corvus frugilegus Rooks and crows are despised by many farmers but they perform a useful task in eating agricultural pests.  They like to nest together in rookeries at the tops of trees and are extremely noisy and quarrelsome.  Their bills are silvery as oppose to the black bills of carrion crows.
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii -
Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus -
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis This small and stocky introduction\escapee American duck is rusty red.  Its days are numbered as it is cross breeding with a rare European duck as is as a result being culled in many places.  It is a member of the stiff tail ducks.  During courtship the male raises his stumpy tail showing  off to the female.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax  
Sand Martin Riparia riparia Early summer visitors, these chirpy birds create nest tunnels in stable sand banks, in quarries for instance.  They are similar to their more familiar house martin 'cousins', but have a tawny underside.
Sanderling Calidris alba
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis  
Scaup Aythya marila
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenabaenus Summer visitor to reed beds, but prefers to feed in adjacent bushes.  Has scratchy, grating song interrupted with short flights whilst still singing.  Back is striped.
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis Similar to cormorant but has white chin and is more likely to be found near the sea.
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna A relatively large attractive duck.  Male has an orange bill, green head and neck, and white body, apart from an orange strip down its shoulder area.
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris -
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus -
Shoveler Anas clypeata A duck distinctive by its wide beak used fro combing the surface of the water for food.  Male has an dark bill, green head and white body, apart from an wide orange strip down its body.
Siskin Carduelis spinus -
Skylark Alauda arvensis A rather undistinguished looking lark with a small crest but a big voice.  From January onwards through to summer the skylark can be heard  singing its heart out over farmland from a hovering, rising or dropping flight.  Its wings beat furiously and can be quite hard to spot as it often climbs high into the sky during this display.
Smew Mergus albellus -
Snipe Gallinago gallinago A medium sized wader with an oversized straight bill, its probes for worms in marginal wet habitats.  It has an excellent camouflage.
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis -
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos A thrush regularly seen in gardens and singing from trees tops.  It has a clear, strong and melodious song in which each phrase is repeated, almost without exception.  It eats snails, the shells of which it cracks open on stones, which have been called 'anvils' by romantic bird lovers.
Sooty Shearwater Puffinis griseus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia  
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata  
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus  
Spotted crake Porzana porzana  
Starling Sturnus vulgaris Well known gregarious bird.  Adult starlings has with black feathers a glossy sheen and dark colours.  The immature birds are a dull brown.
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus  
Stonechat Saxicola torquata  
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus  
Swallow Hirundo rustica
Swift Apus apus
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Teal Anas crecca
Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii  
Tree Ceeper
Tree Pipit Anthus. trivialis  
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus  
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris  
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Turnstone Arenaria interpres  
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur  
Twite Carduelis flavirostris  
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus  
Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus  
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus  
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra  
White-fronted goose Anser albifrons  
Whitethroat Sylvia communis  
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Wigeon Anas penelope
Willow Tit Parus montanus  
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus  
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix  
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Woodcock Scolopax rusticola  
Woodlark Lullula arborea
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus  
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes  
Wryneck Jynx torquilla
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima  
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella  






All images and text are copyright PMcS 2006