Top 10 Winter Birds You May See in Your Garden
Robin (Erithacus Rubecula)
With Christmas just around the corner, we must put the lovely robin at the top of our list. They are one of the most popular and familiar birds in the UK and regularly visit gardens. Unmistakable to spot with their brown back, white belly, and famous red breast. Quite the handsome bird!
They are very territorial and make their presence known with a loud song. They sing all through the winter when both male and females hold territories. These feisty little birds will hold their ground and even fight, to drive off intruders.
Many believe that the robin is the spirit of a loved one that has passed, and therefore gives comfort to those that spot them.
Small worms, insects, insect larvae and spiders make up most of their diet, but they also enjoy seeds, fruits, and berries in the winter months.
There are two species of sparrow. There is the Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus), found predominantly in the Midlands and in Southern and Eastern England, and the other being the more common House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), which is found more widely throughout England.
Tree and house sparrows can be distinguished by their plumage. They seem quite similar but there are key features to look out for.
Tree Sparrows are smaller than house sparrows and have a white collar, black spots of their cheeks and chestnut-brown crowns, whereas House sparrows (males) have a light grey crown.
House Sparrows can be found from centre of cities to the farmland of the countryside. They feed and breed near to people. They live in colonies and nest in holes or crevices in buildings, among Ivy or other bushes and in nest boxes.
They have a varied diet and enjoy sunflower hearts, berries, peanuts, insects, suet, and mealworms.
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
The blue tit is often found in woodland, parks, and gardens. It nests in tree holes but will also be happy to try out a nest box.
This lovely little bird is very colourful with a blue cap, white cheeks, black eye stripes, a green/blue back, yellow belly and blue wings and tail.
Like most birds, blue tits see in ultra-violet (UV) light. Studies have shown that the brown cap on their heads, glows slightly brighter under UV light. This is thought to give out signals, for mating purposes.
Blue tits are active feeders and will hunt out insects and spiders from the woodland area. In the garden they like to feed on peanuts, sunflower hearts, and suet pellets.
Goldfinch (Carduelis Carduelis)
The goldfinch is found everywhere from gardens and parks, to woodland heathland and farmland. They like to nest on the end of branches or buried within a hedgerow.
This small colourful bird can be identified by its brown back, white belly, black and yellow wings, white cheeks, and a bright red face. Very striking!
During the winter, goldfinches roam in flocks of up to 200 birds, searching for food. Some of our UK birds will avoid the cold winter and opt for the sunnier climate of Spain.
Goldfinches eat mostly seeds and insects, and in the garden are partial to sunflower hearts and a niger seed or two!
Long-Tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
The Long-Tailed Tit can be found in woodland, hedgerows, parks, and scrubland. They will make their nest out of spiders’ webs, moss, lichen, and grass, and will be lined with feathers or hair. These nests can be found in hedges, trees, and bushes.
The Long-Tailed Tit has a tail longer than its body. It has a distinct small stature with pinkish streaks on its shoulders and belly. It has black and white wings and tail with a white chin. It also has a reddish/orange eyelid.
These little birds usually roam in flocks of around twenty, and there is generally no fear of eating around humans. They are a common bird to spot in the garden and open scrubland.
Long Tailed Tits eat mostly berries, nuts and insects and in the garden will enjoy feeding on peanuts and suet pellets.
Coal Tit (Periparus Ater)
Coal Tits the smallest of all the Tits, can be found in parks, gardens, and coniferous woodland. They nest in small holes such as those found in trees and have been known to move into mouse holes.
Coal Tits are identified by their grey backs, white cheeks, black cap, and white neck patch. Very similar to the marsh tit and willow tit but the Coal Tit has white wing stripes and white patch at the back of its head. The Marsh and Willow Tits have plain black wings and entirely black caps.
In winter they form flocks with other tits, roaming woodlands and gardens.
Coal Tits are active feeders and will hunt out insects and spiders from the woodland area. In the garden they like to feed on peanuts, sunflower hearts, and suet pellets.
Nuthatch (Sitta Europaea)
The Nuthatch can be easily spotted climbing headfirst down tree trunks in woodland and parks. They nest in holes in trees or abandoned nests but are also happy to use nest boxes. They use a combination on bark chips and dead leaves to line the nest. They will plaster mud around the entrance hold of their nest, to meet their exact requirements.
Nuthatches’ are identified by their blueish-grey backs, brown-orange belly, white chin, black eye stripe and black cap.
In winter Nuthatches’ feed on insects, invertebrates, seeds, and nuts. They will hide surplus nuts in gaps in the tree bark to eat later. They have a habit of hacking at these nuts to retrieve them from their hiding place, and this is thought to have earned these birds its name. In the garden they like to feed on peanuts, sunflower hearts, and black sunflower seeds.
Starling (Sturnus Vulgaris)
Starlings can be found in gardens, parks, and farmland. The species is found all throughout the UK, except the Highlands of Scotland.
The males build the nests using leaves and dry grass in tree cavities, next boxes and beneath roof tiles.
Starlings are identified by their glossy black feathers with iridescent markings, that shine blue and green in the sunlight. During the colder months, they are also covered in small white spots.
During the winter months starlings form large communal roots in trees, grouping together for safety and warmth. Around the time of sunset, thousands of birds arrive in small flocks above a roosting site. Swirling together in twists and turns in the air. These incredible shapes are known as murmurations and are quite spectacular to see!
The Starlings diet is made up of invertebrates, including moths and earthworms, as well as fruit. They are also ground feeding birds and will stab at the lawn with their pointed yellow beaks.
Chaffinch (Fringilla Coelebs)
The Chaffinch is found all throughout the UK and is commonly found in woodland areas. It can also be found on farmland, and in parks and gardens.
Chaffinch nests are constructed using spiders’ webs, moss, grass and lined with feathers. Nests can be found in trees, hedges, and bushes.
Male Chaffinches are very colourful birds with an orange-pink breast and cheeks, blue-grey cap, and orange-brown back. Females are much duller brown with hints of green and yellow.
Chaffinches forage for food both on the ground and in trees. In the warmer months, their diet consists of invertebrates, with caterpillars being their favourite! Towards the end of the year, their preference changes to that of a more seed based diet.
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Blackbirds can be found in woodland and grassland areas and are a common visitor to UK gardens. They are quite the bold bird, and it is often possible to get quite close to one.
The female builds the nest usually close to the ground, using twigs, grass, and other plant materials.
The male Blackbird is entirely black in colour with a bright yellow beak and yellow ring round the eye. The female is dark brown with lighter brown streaks on the breast, and a duller yellow-brown beak.
Blackbirds favourite meal is the earthworm. They can hear the movement of the worm just beneath the ground’s surface. Hopping along on the ground, they will also flip over fallen leaves to search for a tasty morsel underneath. They also eat insects, caterpillars and fallen fruit and berries.