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Kids’ Guide To: The Most Common Garden Birds

A British garden is a wondrous place that is full of nature, including many types of garden birds. As well as a variety of distinguishing features, birds have different habits, voices and times of year that they will appear in your garden. Whether it’s a robin perched on your garden fence or a flock of starlings roaming above your head, bird spotting is a fun way for little ones to learn more about nature.

From woodpigeons to magpies and blue tits, we’ve created a garden bird guide to help you spot some of our most common British birds. We’ve also included some fun garden bird facts for kids, as well as tips on how to feed your garden visitors and when you’re most likely to spot them.

How to identify garden birds

The easiest way to identify the most common garden birds is by their appearance, which is why it’s a good idea to carry a pen and paper around with you to make a note of their colour, beak shape and body size. Once you’ve started looking at different types of garden birds, you can begin making a note of their features and research them afterwards in your bird books. To get a good look at the birds, you should:

• Use binoculars
• Put bird seed down or add a bird feeder to your garden
• If you already have a bird feeder, make sure it is as close as possible to your window for easy viewing
• Take photos of the bird for reference
• Jot down any notable features

Getting children interested in bird watching is a great way of introducing them to wildlife and teaching them about the environment. So, which are the most common garden birds?

Garden house sparrows

Length: 14cm
Wingspan: 24cm
Weight: 34g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Garden house sparrows are noisy and outgoing, often travelling together in small flocks. Young females are pale and grey in colour, with males sporting brighter black, white and brown markings in order to attract partners. One of the most common British birds, house sparrows are partial to grains and seeds, so make sure your feeder is well stocked before they visit. These birds are sociable creatures and can often be heard arguing with their neighbours!

Fun fact: The oldest recorded house sparrow lived for 14 years!

Common starling birds

Length: 22cm
Wingspan: 40cm
Weight: 78g
Average lifespan: 5 years

Starlings are known for mimicking bird calls, whistles and even car alarms, making them vibrant characters that are full of life. Starlings have a glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white spots during the winter. They have a wide-ranging diet, preferring suet balls, mealworms and apples. Starlings are acrobatic, so don’t mind dangling from feeders if they must, but they are more at home on the ground or a low-height bird table. In Britain we are more likely to see these types of birds in winter, but they may choose to stay and nest if there are suitable holes for them in trees, or even sometimes buildings!

Fun fact: Starlings can mimic between 15-20 sounds!

Blue tit birds

Length: 12cm
Wingspan: 18cm
Weight: 11g
Average lifespan: 3 years

A colourful mix of blue, white, yellow and green, the blue tit is perhaps our most attractive and recognisable garden visitor. Smaller than the great tit, the blue tit is an active feeder, hunting out insects and spiders among the smaller branches and leaves of trees. They are also well-adapted to gardens and will happily visit bird tables and peanut feeders. During the winter, blue tits will form flocks with other tits, meaning they are likely to visit our garden in larger groups. Blue tits are musical creatures, so listen out for their trilling ‘tsee-tsee-tsee’ song.

Fun fact: Rose bushes are a blue tit’s favourite plant!

Garden woodpigeons

Length: 40-42cm
Wingspan: 78cm
Weight: 450g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Woodpigeons are among the UK’s most well-known garden birds, distinguishable by their hollow cooing call. As well as their husky ‘hroo-hroo’ call, woodpigeons can be identified by their grey tones, plump bodies and short legs. They feed on seeds, leaves, grains, fruit and peas – so there are plenty of options for filling up your bird box! Woodpigeons make twig nests in trees, so can likely be spotted in your garden all year round.

Fun fact: A woodpigeon mates for life, and will mourn if their mate is lost.

Goldfinch birds

Length: 12-14cm
Wingspan: 24cm
Weight: 17g
Average lifespan: 2 years

The goldfinch is a striking bird, with a red crown, bright yellow wings and contrasting black plumage. It eats small seed, especially from ragwort, dandelions and teasels, but will visit bird tables and feeders, too. Goldfinches can roam in flocks of up to 100 birds (aptly known as a ‘charm’) but are less likely to be spotted during winter months. Not fans of the harsh weather, goldfinches have been known to migrate as far as South Spain to avoid the cold, wind and rain!

Fun fact: Baby goldfinches aren’t born with their red face, so are known as ‘grey pates’ until they are grown.

Red robin birds

Length: 14cm
Wingspan: 21cm
Weight: 18g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Long known as the ‘robin red breast’, this much-loved garden friend is one of our most familiar birds, found on the front of Christmas cards every year. Distinguished by their striking red chest, robins are surprisingly territorial birds, defending their posts and driving away any intruders that cross their paths. You may know if robins are inhabiting your garden as their nests crop up in the oddest of places – from plant pots to shelves and even old wellies!

Fun fact: Red robin birds gave their name to the first postmen who wore red jackets, and who also become known as ‘robins’!

Magpie crows

Length: 44-48cm
Wingspan: 56cm
Weight: 200-240g
Average lifespan: 5 years

You may have heard the “one for sorrow, two for joy…” rhyme associated with the magpie – although a bird of much myth and superstition, magpies are very common in British gardens. Magpie crows are small, omnivorous crows, feeding on carrion, invertebrates, chicks and eggs. They are sociable birds, often heard ‘chattering’ noisily in garden hedges. They are famous for collecting all kinds of objects, particularly anything shiny, to decorate their nests. Magpies are intelligent and inquisitive creatures, so it is only natural that they would be interested in unusual objects!

Fun fact: The magpie’s tail is as long as its body, making it one of the longest tails in the avian world!

Now you know how to identify garden birds, kit your little ones out for their next garden adventure with kids’ clothing from Hawkshead. From waterproof jackets for staying warm and dry on wet days, to outdoor accessories such as handy rucksacks, browse the full collection online today.

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