25 Birds Of Britain: A List With Pictures & Facts For Kids & Adults

Presented below is a compilation featuring fascinating British bird species accompanied by captivating information and captivating imagery. This page serves as a continuation of our exploration of avian creatures residing in the British Isles.

Contained in the subsequent list are bird species that may not possess the same level of familiarity or ubiquity as those in the initial catalog. However, the birds featured on this page are all well-known creatures that anyone residing in Britain should be able to recognize.

Once you have successfully identified all the birds in both lists, you can proudly declare yourself an expert in British avifauna!

We’re curious to know, what is your preferred British bird? Are any of these avian species found in your country? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Birds of Britain: Comprehensive Roster with Images and Facts

1. Barn Owl

  • Scientific Name: Tyto alba
  • Preferred Habitat: Farmland, grasslands

This exquisite, snowy-white owl is not only active during nighttime but also during the enchanting hours of dawn and dusk. During these periods, it can often be observed gracefully soaring above fields while hunting for prey. Its diet mainly comprises small mammals such as shrews, voles, and mice.

While the barn owl is commonly associated with the British countryside, it is also found in numerous other regions across the globe. In fact, this species boasts a broader range than most other birds, spanning Europe, Asia, the Americas, and even Australia!

The barn owl emits a rather unpleasant screech, earning it the moniker of ‘screech owl.’ (It’s important to note that the renowned ‘twit-twoo’ call is attributed to the tawny owl, which can be found in our list of common British birds.)

2. Black Headed Gull

  • Scientific Name: Chroicocephalus ridibundus
  • Preferred Habitat: Coastal areas, estuaries, farmland, reservoirs

The black-headed gull, smaller in size compared to the herring gull, is a common sight along coastlines, but it also frequents various inland habitats.

During the summer, this gull displays a black head, which can be confusing as its head turns predominantly white in winter, retaining only a small black patch behind each eye.

This gull species is far from quiet or shy, emitting a distinct high-pitched ‘caw’ call.

3. Coal Tit

  • Scientific Name: Periparus ater
  • Preferred Habitat: Coniferous woods

The coal tit holds the distinction of being the smallest tit in Britain. Its appearance bears some resemblance to the blue tit, but with a less vibrant coloration, featuring predominantly pale brown, slate grey, and white plumage. The coal tit boasts a black head with white cheeks, and a notable white stripe adorns the back of its neck.

Typically, this bird spends the majority of its time in the treetops of coniferous woodlands. However, it also pays visits to parks and gardens.

4. Coot

  • Scientific Name: Fulica atra
  • Preferred Habitat: Lakes, reservoirs, rivers

The coot, a medium-sized black water bird, is commonly found in lakes and reservoirs across Britain. It possesses a white bill and a frontal shield—a hard, bony plate that covers its face and forehead.

Interestingly, the featherless white frontal shield of the coot has given rise to the saying “as bald as a coot”!

5. Cormorant

  • Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Preferred Habitat: Coastal areas, reservoirs

The cormorant, a large, long-necked black bird, can be spotted along the coastlines of Britain. It also ventures into inland lakes and reservoirs, especially during the winter season.

Feeding primarily on fish, the cormorant is known for its remarkable diving skills as it plunges into the water to catch its prey. After fishing, you may observe the cormorant perched with its outstretched wings, engaging in a behavior called “wing drying.”

With its elongated neck, the cormorant possesses a somewhat “reptilian” appearance, reinforcing the notion that birds are descendants of dinosaurs.

6. Goldcrest

  • Scientific Name: Regulus regulus
  • Preferred Habitat: Coniferous woodland and forests

As one of Britain’s smallest birds, the goldcrest shares its diminutive size with its closely-related counterpart, the firecrest. This little avian species frequents coniferous woodlands, where it can be observed flitting among branches in search of insects. Using its slender bill, the goldcrest skillfully extracts prey from between pine needles.

Sporting olive green back and wings, the goldcrest features a prominent gold stripe on its head, giving rise to its name.

7. Great Black-Backed Gull

  • Scientific Name: Larus marinus
  • Preferred Habitat: Coastal areas, reservoirs

As the largest gull species globally, the great black-backed gull is hard to miss. Distinguished by its size and black wings (in contrast to the dark grey wings of the lesser black-backed gull), this gull species possesses pale pink legs, aiding in its identification.

The great black-backed gull showcases its versatility as a scavenger and kleptoparasite, often stealing food caught by other birds. Additionally, it demonstrates remarkable hunting skills, preying on fish, birds, and even mammals.

This gull species can be found across the British coastline and occasionally ventures to inland reservoirs and rubbish tips. During winter, Scandinavian great black-backed gulls join their year-round British counterparts.

8. Greenfinch

  • Scientific Name: Chloris chloris
  • Preferred Habitat: Woodlands, parks, gardens

The greenfinch, a bird approximately the size of a sparrow, exhibits a robust, seed-eating beak. Males display an olive-green hue, while females possess a grey-brown coloration. Both genders feature bright yellow wing and tail stripes.

The male greenfinch serenades with a melodious, high-pitched whistling song, often concluding with a sustained note that gradually drops in pitch.

9. Green Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Picus viridis
  • Preferred Habitat: Woodlands, meadows, farmland

The green woodpecker, the largest of the three woodpecker species commonly found in Britain, stands out with its size and vibrant green plumage. This sets it apart from the predominantly black and white great spotted and lesser spotted woodpeckers.

Unlike its counterparts, the green woodpecker spends more time on the ground, foraging for ants. Its long, sticky tongue aids in capturing these tiny creatures from the grass.

When disturbed, the green woodpecker emits a distinctive, laughter-like alarm call.

10. House Martin

  • Scientific Name: Delichon urbicum
  • Preferred Habitat: Farmland, country towns, and villages

The house martin, a small black and white bird, features a forked tail and pointed wings. Its smaller size and the white strip on its back distinguish it from the visually similar swallow.

The house martin is a migratory species, arriving in Britain around April and departing in October. It constructs rounded mud nests in the eaves of buildings, where it breeds and raises its young.

During the winter, the house martin embarks on a journey to Sub-Saharan Africa, where it spends the colder months.

11. Jackdaw

  • Scientific Name: Coloeus monedula
  • Preferred Habitat: Farmland, coastal areas, country towns, and villages

As the smallest member of the crow family in Britain, the jackdaw displays a black body and wings, with dark grey head and shoulders. Its pale grey eyes add to its distinctive appearance.

Highly social in nature, the jackdaw forms small roosting and foraging groups, characterized by a complex social structure. Mated pairs of jackdaws are rarely seen apart, as they often remain together.

The jackdaw emits various calls, including the short and recognizable “jack” call, from which it derives its name.

12. Jay

  • Scientific Name: Garrulus glandarius
  • Preferred Habitat: Woodlands

The jay, an enchanting member of the crow family, captivates with its pale brown chest and wings, complemented by a white lower back and a striking black and white wing pattern. It also possesses bright blue patches on its wings.

Preferring woodland habitats, this visually appealing bird surprises with a less appealing, screeching call. The jay is renowned for its habit of stockpiling acorns, which it collects and consumes later in the year.

13. Kestrel

  • Scientific Name: Falco tinnunculus
  • Preferred Habitat: Farmland, grassland, heaths

The kestrel, a medium-sized falcon, is known for its exceptional hovering ability. Sporting a brown back and a pale chest adorned with dark spots, this bird’s wings showcase a rich brown hue with dark tips.

Frequently spotted perched on telegraph poles or hovering above the ground, the kestrel scans the area in search of its preferred prey: voles.

14. Kingfisher

  • Scientific Name: Alcedo atthis
  • Preferred Habitat: Slow-moving rivers, ponds, lakes, reservoirs

The kingfisher, with its breathtaking blue and orange plumage, stands out as a truly distinctive bird. Its appearance is unmatched by any other British species.

When walking along a river, listen for a short, high-pitched whistle, and you may catch a glimpse of a kingfisher darting past, tracing the course of the water. Often, all you will see is a fleeting flash of blue accompanied by the sound of rapidly-beating wings.

If fortunate, you might spot a kingfisher perched on an overhanging branch, carefully observing the water before swiftly diving in to capture a fish. The kingfisher returns to its perch with the prey securely held in its long beak. If the fish is still moving, the kingfisher expertly bashes it against a branch and manipulates it to ensure easy swallowing, starting with the head first.

15. Lesser Black-Backed Gull

  • Scientific Name: Larus fuscus
  • Preferred Habitat: Coast, farmland

The lesser black-backed gull, closely related to the herring gull, is a sizable gull species, although smaller than the great black-backed gull. Its wings, unlike those of the great black-backed gull, showcase dark gray coloring. The lesser black-backed gull’s legs are yellow, distinguishing it further.

During the summer, this gull can be found all along the British coastline, while it retreats from the northernmost regions in winter.

Younger birds engage in an intriguing behavior where they peck at the red spot on the adult’s bill. This action triggers an instinctive feeding response in the adult, compelling it to regurgitate food for the young.

16. Moorhen

  • Scientific Name: Gallinula chloropus
  • Preferred Habitat: Ponds, lakes, rivers, reservoirs

The moorhen, a black water bird, shares a resemblance with the coot but possesses a red frontal shield instead of a white one. It sports a red bill with a yellow tip.

Distinguished from the coot by a patchy white line running along its body’s sides, the moorhen occupies freshwater habitats across the British Isles, except for the northernmost regions. It tends to prefer well-vegetated environments.

17. Nuthatch

  • Scientific Name: Sitta europaea
  • Preferred Habitat: Woodlands, gardens

Nuthatches, known for their intelligence, thrive in woodlands across England, Wales, and southern Scotland. These birds feature grey heads and backs, distinctive “superhero” eye masks, and orange undersides.

If you encounter a small grey bird climbing head-first down a tree trunk or hanging upside-down from a branch, chances are you’re observing a nuthatch. Unlike other small woodland birds, nuthatches exhibit both upward and downward movements while foraging on tree trunks.

It’s worth noting that woodpeckers, despite their adeptness at climbing trees, never descend head-first like nuthatches do.

18. Oystercatcher

  • Scientific Name: Haematopus ostralegus
  • Preferred Habitat: Coast, estuaries

Recognizable by its striking black and white plumage, red eyes, and long, carrot-like orange bill, the oystercatcher is a coastal bird found throughout the British Isles.

As a wader species, it specializes in foraging along the shoreline, wading through shallow waters and sifting through mud with its bill in search of food.

19. Peregrine Falcon

  • Scientific Name: Falco peregrinus
  • Preferred Habitat: Cliffs, upland areas, now also found in some cities

The peregrine falcon, the largest falcon species in Britain, possesses a powerful physique. Recognizable by its wide, pointed wings, streaked chest, and a black “moustache” mark on its face, this falcon is an impressive aerial predator.

Known for its remarkable hunting technique, the peregrine falcon soars above its prey and swiftly dives, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) in a breathtaking stoop. This makes it the fastest-moving animal on the planet.

Traditionally found in rocky upland areas, the peregrine falcon has adapted to urban environments, establishing nests in cities. Feral pigeons serve as a readily available food source in these settings.

20. Pied Wagtail

  • Scientific Name: Motacilla alba
  • Preferred Habitat: Coastal areas, gardens, near water

The pied wagtail, a small black and white bird with a distinctive long tail, aptly displays its namesake behavior by frequently wagging its tail. Additionally, its head bobs as it walks. It is commonly observed near water bodies such as reservoirs or streams and is also a frequent visitor to gardens.

21. Puffin

  • Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica
  • Preferred Habitat: Sea cliffs, open ocean

No compilation of British birds would be complete without the inclusion of the puffin. Although not a commonly encountered species, the puffin is widely recognized and cherished by many.

Often referred to as the “sea parrot” due to its distinctive large and colorful bill, the puffin can be spotted at various coastal locations during the summer season.

For breeding and raising their young, puffins form colonies on the cliff tops, digging burrows in which a single egg is laid.

During winter, the puffin spends most of its time far out at sea, venturing away from the coast after fulfilling its parental duties.

22. Skylark

  • Scientific Name: Alauda arvensis
  • Preferred Habitat: Grasslands, heaths, open countryside

The skylark, a small brown bird slightly larger than a sparrow, possesses feathers with pale edges, giving it a streaked appearance. Its chest showcases pale coloration with broken stripes, and when agitated, the male skylark raises a distinctive crest.

During the spring and summer seasons, the male skylark’s bubbling, melodious song fills the air. It ascends vertically, soaring higher and higher until it appears as a mere speck against the summer sky.

The skylark’s enchanting song can last for up to 15 minutes, making it an iconic sound of the English springtime.

23. Sparrowhawk

  • Scientific Name: Accipiter nisus
  • Preferred Habitat: Woodlands, gardens

In the presence of a sparrowhawk, garden and woodland birds become wary. This agile bird of prey poses a significant threat to smaller avian species.

With slate-grey wings and a barred tail, the male sparrowhawk features orange bars on its chest, while the female displays black bars. Its flight pattern involves a series of short wingbeats followed by gliding.

Female sparrowhawks are notably larger than males, allowing them to focus on larger prey, such as collared doves, while the males concentrate on smaller species.

To save on effort, true bird enthusiasts often refer to this woodland predator as a “sprawk” instead of “sparrowhawk.”

24. Swallow

  • Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica
  • Preferred Habitat: Farmland, open countryside, reservoirs

The arrival of the first swallows signals the imminent arrival of summer. These migratory birds undertake an extraordinary journey from Sub-Saharan Africa to Britain every spring, returning to their African feeding grounds in the autumn.

Distinguished by their dark-blue/black wings and white undersides, marked by a dark neck band, swallows showcase a red face upon close observation.

Swift and agile, swallows dart low over the ground or water, making sudden changes in direction as they hunt for small flying insects. They often rest on telephone wires between hunting expeditions and are frequent visitors to gardens.

25. Swift

  • Scientific Name: Apus apus
  • Preferred Habitat: Cities, towns, villages

Similar in appearance to swallows and house martins, the swift is a migratory bird characterized by a forked tail. Larger than both swallows and house martins, the swift boasts entirely black plumage, except for a pale throat patch.

The swift spends most of its life in the air, rarely touching the ground except to lay eggs and feed its young. In fact, some individuals have been known to remain airborne for up to ten months at a time.

Although it shares visual similarities with swallows and house martins, the swift is unrelated to these species. This phenomenon, known as convergent evolution, occurs when unrelated species independently evolve similar characteristics and lifestyles.

Conclusion: British Birds List

If you can successfully identify all the birds from both lists, along with the captivating imagery and accompanying information, you are well on your way to becoming a true ornithologist! Take pride in your knowledge of British avian species and continue to appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

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