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Top 5 British Song Birds

Updated on September 3, 2016

British Song Birds

Photography by AnnMackieMiller - available from*
Photography by AnnMackieMiller - available from* | Source

British Song Birds

Here in the UK we are particularly fond of our garden birds from the cheeky little Robin and the blackbirds who wait for you to dig up worms, to colourful chaffinches and shy wrens. In this photo journal I'd like to introduce you to 5 of my favourite British Song Birds. For the reader's interest I also include for facts about garden birds. I hope you enjoy your visit.

If you would like to attract birds into your garden or backyard here are a couple of tips. Hang fat balls or feeders from branches of trees or bushes wherever possible - or place your bird feeding tables near some bushes, most birds prefer to have some cover close at hand when they are feeding. Put out seeds, fat balls and mealy worms, even during the spring and summer. Many people think birds only need to be fed in the winter, but they also need lots of nutrients during the rest of the year, especially during the breeding season when they may be feeding chicks. You can also feed them nuts but be sure to have those in a net or peanut feeder so they nibble at them. Use a variety of seeds, different seeds will attract different birds - for example, birds of the finch family love niger seeds and their long thin beaks are ideal for picking them out of niger seed holder. Other birds can't access them.

NB - all the images featured on this page are by the author, AnnMackieMiller, and are copyright to the photographer dated 2011. They may not be copied of reproduced.

Blackbird pictures

Female blackbird
Female blackbird | Source
Male Blackbird
Male Blackbird | Source

British Blackbirds

Blackbirds are frequent garden visitors and they can become quite tame - I can remember my father having a favourite and he used to dig up worms for it while he was in the garden - but only when he didn't think anyone was looking. The two in these photos are a male and female that commonly come to my garden to be fed.

Blackbirds belong to the thrush family and the male and female are quite distinctive. The males are all black with a bright yellow beak and black eyes and they have a little yellow ring around their eyes. The female is more brown than black and some, like the one here, have a mottled underbelly. Like the male, they also have black eyes, without the eye-ring and an orange or yellow beak. Immature blackbirds can be identified by their black bills.

Blackbirds fed on berries and fruit and on worms and other invertebrates. In fact if you watch them carefully when they are on the ground, they will cock their head to one side to listen for worms and will use their feet to pitter-patter on the ground in imitation of rain to lure the worms to the surface.

Blackbirds are wonderful singers. Their song fills the air throughout the spring.

A Blackbird Singing

Bird picture - Dunnock

Dunnock in snow
Dunnock in snow | Source

Picture of a Dunnock

A Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow feeding on seeds
A Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow feeding on seeds | Source

The Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow

I knew them more as hedge sparrows when I was young but they are actually called dunnocks and their numbers have declined markedly since then. They are a lot less common now, but I have one in particular that visits my garden regularly. At first glance they look quite dowdy birds but they are actually rather pretty little things. Their body is black and brown streaks with a softer brown on the flanks and underbelly. The adults have a little brown or grey looking cap, a brown eye and beak.

They like to stay fairly close to cover while they are feeding and you will often see them shuffling among leaves and garden litter for insects. They will clean up under your bird table and they LOVE grated cheese. They have an adorable habit of flicking their tails.

The Dunnock are notoriously fickle during the breeding season and it is not uncommon for a male to have two or more nesting females or indeed for a female to have a couple of male mates.

This year they have brought a whole bunch of chicks along so things are looking up.

Dunnock Singing


Dunnock on feeder
Dunnock on feeder | Source
dunnocks | Source

Images of a Coal Tit

A Coal Tit
A Coal Tit | Source
A Coal Tit feeding on a nut-feeder in the garden
A Coal Tit feeding on a nut-feeder in the garden | Source

The Coal Tit

Obviously one of the tit family, the Coal Tit is the smallest. It is a very cute little bird with more black markings than Blue Tits, as the name suggests. It has a black head often with a patch of white at the nape of the neck. The body tends to be grey with a buff underbelly. They have a lovely little black bib and white cheek patches, a black eye and sharp little beak ideal for eating seeds.

They feed mainly on tiny insects, spiders and spiders eyes where they find them in trees. Because it is tiny, the Coal Tit can perch on the smallest of branches, so no escape for spider's eggs. When they feed in your garden, they don't hang around: they prefer to take food and fly off to eat it somewhere near by that is less exposed.

The Coal Tit have a lovely little song - high and sweet notes that are repeated quickly and repetitively - sounds like wi-choo wi-choo wi-choo or sweetu sweetu sweetu.

They usually have one brood of chicks per year, sometime between April and June so be sure you have plenty of food out for them then. There is huge competition for food among the birds why not make it easy for them to find?

Coal Tit Singing

Images of Chaffinches

Male Chaffinch on a stone
Male Chaffinch on a stone | Source
Male Chaffinch feeding on seeds
Male Chaffinch feeding on seeds | Source


The Chaffinch are popular birds because they are easily seen and they are so pretty. The male has a pretty duskly pink underbelly a blue/grey head and bill and russets checks and back. The female is brown with an olive grey head and a pale underbelly. Both male and female have lovely white wing bars that are seen best when they are in flight. They have a dark tail with wide edges that outline it beautifully, also best seen in flight.

They eat insects and have a particular liking for caterpillars that they pick off leaves. They also like berries and young shoots so you will often see them nipping them off bushes. At bird tables they seem to love all seeds but are very partial to sunflower seeds. They can be a bit messy, using their bill to swipe the seeds from side to side, over the edge of your feeder till they get the best ones. But then, nothing is wasted and what ends up under the table is perfect for the ground feeding birds like the robin and pigeons.

Chaffinch Singing

Images of British Robins

Robin redbreast perched on a branch
Robin redbreast perched on a branch | Source
British Robin perched in a bush
British Robin perched in a bush | Source

The British Robin

The British Robin is very different from the American Robin and it has been voted as Britain's most popular British bird. That is because it is a very common visitor to our gardens and can become quite tame. It is not unknown for a Robin to dog your steps, especially when you are digging in the garden and they will perch close to you at other times. They appear to be quite curious creatures or perhaps they are just opportunists.

The Robin is about the same size as our Sparrows and has a distinctive red breast and face that is brighter in Spring, especially with the males as they try to attract a mate. Recently it has been acknowledged that birds are not, as first thought colour blind and bright colour really is important. The brighter the bird, the healthier it is, which tells the female it can find food easily so will be a good provider.

What is also appealing about the Robin is the bright black eye that makes they look cute and intelligent. Their checks an have a bluish tinge to the neck and the rest of them is mainly a warm buff colour. They have tiny brown legs and a narrow dark beak.

They like to feed mainly on the ground so they are ideal for cleaning up after the more messy birds. They will feed on bird tables though and despite the fact that all the books say they don't hoover well enough to feed on nut-feeders, they mostly do. They are quite clever birds so if there is a nice fat slab hung in a tree, they will have a go at it. They are particularly fond of mealy worms especially for feeding their young, all that protein you know.

Robin singing

AnnMackieMiller's fine art on video

Shopping in the UK - THE best field guide to British Birds

Collins field book guide to British Birds
Collins field book guide to British Birds | Source

© 2011 annmackiemiller

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    • annmackiemiller profile image

      annmackiemiller 3 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      they should but they are not!

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 3 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Hubpages should be doing all it can to hang on to pages like this!

    • annmackiemiller profile image

      annmackiemiller 5 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      thanks pamela

    • Joyful Pamela profile image

      Joyful Pamela 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I've always had a soft spot for birds, so I think these are lovely. :)

    • annmackiemiller profile image

      annmackiemiller 5 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      thanks imogen - i get great pleasure from them

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

      These are beautifully captured pictures (I'm never quite quick enough to catch them with my camera, although I have tried!). I enjoy seeing all of these birds in my garden too, you have done a great job in photographing and writing about them. I do love robins - as you point out they are tamer than most of our other garden birds, and follow you around when you're working in the garden, waiting for you to dig up a worm or something.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I write about birds and waterfowl, too. If you want to learn about American birds, I do a weekly called "Life at Boomer Lake with Deb," complete with photos.

      I'd like to learn about your birds, too. Voted beautiful.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow! Another gorgeous, fun, interesting, and educational Hub! I'll admit I've been somewhat blind to all birds... but after having enjoyed your photos and learned more about some interesting species, I think I'll appreciate them a lot more!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Great photos Ann. I'm slightly further north than you near Newcastle. My garden is always full of lovely birds -robins, yellow hammers, blue tits, coal tits, doves, wood pigeons and less friendly visitors like magpies and sparrow hawks. We even had a woodcock launch itself off our patio doors last Summer (we think he could see his own reflection), thankfully he survived the crash and flew away after a while.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Wow, Ann! I am blown away by this hub with its original photos and videos! Wow, you have taken photo hubs to a whole new level. I am in Canada here, and we do have sparrows and blackbirds and a different kind of robin (the American robin, I guess?) but not the other two you mention.

      My Mom always loved birds and seeing all of these reminds me of her. Her favourite was the sparrow. Thank you for sharing and I definitely plan on checking out some of your other bird journals. Very nice!

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Oh Ann, if only I could teleport myself to the UK! I miss seeing these little guys around. We don't get very many small birds in Calgary and I would love to hear their song again.

      Your pictures are adorable. Voted up / interesting.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Cool photos - thanks for the bird tips. I saw a bluebird the other day - a flash of blue fly by. It was very cool. :)

    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 6 years ago from Bangalore

      I like birds. nice pics.