10 Common UK Birds (With Pictures)

10 Common UK Birds (With Pictures)

The UK isn’t known for its beautiful and exotic birds. Unlike countries like Australia and the Amazon, for example, the UK doesn’t have a wide variety of colourful birds.

That doesn’t mean that the most common UK birds are boring; it only means that their colours don’t stand out as much. But which 10 birds are the most common UK birds? It’s not an easy question to answer as someone who lives on the coast of Southern England will give you a different answer than someone who lives in the Scottish Highlands. Someone who lives in a city will also give you a different answer.

This list of the most common birds in the UK is based on how many of them there are in the UK overall. We did not include birds on the red list, like certain types of gulls, as these are in serious decline even though some people would tell you otherwise.

1. Wood Pigeon

Wood Pigeon
  • Scientific Name: Columba palumbus
  • Lifespan: Up to 15years
  • Size: 40-42cm
  • Weight: 480-550g
  • Wingspan: 75-80cm
  • Population: 5,150,000 million breeding pairs
  • Status: Amber

The wood pigeon is the largest and most common pigeon in the UK (if you live in a city, you’ll see more rock pigeons, also called feral pigeons, but these aren’t as numerous in the UK overall).

These pigeons are hard to miss thanks to their size and rather noisy flying. They have a grey body, a blue-grey head, and a white neck patch. They have white wing bars, and the males have a beautiful pink chest with an iridescent purple patch. Like in most bird species, females aren’t as shiny. all.

They love crops, especially cabbages, sprouts, peas, and grains. They also love buds, shoots, seeds, and nuts and won’t say no to some juicy berries.

2. Magpie

  • Scientific Name: Pica Pica
  • Lifespan: 3-6 years
  • Size: 44-46cm
  • Weight: 210-250g
  • Wingspan: 52-60cm
  • Population: 600,000 breeding territories
  • Status: Green

UK Magpies look different from their relatives in Australia and New Zealand. While the colour-scheme is similar, they are daintier with a very long tail. They have a black head, breast, wings, and back, a white belly and undertail.

When the light hits their plumage in the right way, you’ll notice a lovely purple-blue sheen. There is no significant visual difference between males and females.

Magpies are very clever birds, like all birds in the corvid family. They aren’t very picky when it comes to food as they are omnivores, so they’ll eat veggies, berries, grains, and seeds as happily as they’ll hunt down insects.

3. Blackbird

  • Scientific Name: Turdus Merula
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Size: 24.5-25cm
  • Weight: 80-100g
  • Wingspan: 34-38.5cm
  • Population: 5-5.1 million breeding pairs
  • Status: Green

Blackbirds are a very common sight in the UK, but some people don’t realize that female blackbirds are also blackbirds. The “problem” here is that female blackbirds aren’t black. They are dark brown and have a streaky underside (usually with a slightly paler throat). Males, on the other hand, are indeed black. They have a yellow bill. In some very rare cases, you can see blackbirds with some white streaks in their plumage.

Blackbirds like eating insects and worms. When it’s the right season, they’ll also happily pick berries off bushes.

4. Collared Dove

Collared Dove
  • Scientific Name: Streptopelia decaocto
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 32cm
  • Weight: 180-220g
  • Wingspan: 51cm
  • Population: 810,000 breeding pairs
  • Status: Green

The collared dove isn’t quite a numerous as the wood pigeon, but still more numerous than the so-called “feral pigeon” (people in cities don’t want to believe that, though).

The collared dove is a lovely bird with pale grey plumage and a black half-collar round its neck. It has some pink tinges on the breast and there is no significant difference between males and females.

Like other pigeons and doves, collared doves love seeds and grains, and they’ll also snack on buds and fresh shoots.

5. Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit
  • Scientific Name: Aegithalos caudatus
  • Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Size: 13-15cm
  • Weight: 7-10g
  • Wingspan: 16-19cm
  • Population: 340,000 breeding territories
  • Status: Green

While the long-tailed tit is one of the UK’s smallest birds, it’s also one of the most common birds even though people won’t always spot them easily (they are also not very common in large cities).

The body of a long-tailed tit is roundish. It has a black head with a white stripe above the eyes. The easiest way to recognize a long-tailed tit is – as the name suggests – its long tail (black)!

These little balls of energy are always on the go and mainly chase insects. During autumn and winter, they also eat seeds as insects aren’t quite as numerous during the colder UK months.

6. Goldfinch

  • Scientific Name: Carduelis carduelis
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Size: 12cm
  • Weight: 14-19g
  • Wingspan: 21-25.5cm
  • Population: 1.2 million breeding pairs
  • Status: Green

The UK goldfinch (not to be confused with the actual “golden” American goldfinch) is a beautiful and talented songbird that is fairly widespread throughout the UK. There is quite a difference between males and females.

Male goldfinches have a bright red face with a black cap. Both sexes have yellow wing bars, brown, black, and white wings, and a brownish body.

Like many other small birds in the UK, they love chasing insects, but will also eat seeds when the supply of insects isn’t as good.

7. Chaffinch

  • Scientific Name: Fringilla coelebs
  • Lifespan: Up to10 years
  • Size: 14.5cm
  • Weight: 18-29g
  • Wingspan: 24.5-28.5cm
  • Population: 6.2 million breeding pairs
  • Status: Green

The chaffinch, another small bird, is also very widespread in the UK. Chaffinches are pretty noisy songbirds and can often be seen sitting on branches singing their hearts out.

The male has a blue head and upper body. He has a reddish back, white underparts, and some dark brown streaks. The female isn’t quite as colourful and has a grey-brown head, an olive back, and a paler underside with lighter brown streaks.

Like goldfinches, chaffinches love chasing insects (when they’re not busy singing) and supplement their diet with seeds.

8. Wren

  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Lifespan: 2-3years
  • Size: 9-10cm
  • Weight: 7-12g
  • Wingspan: 13-17cm
  • Population: 8.6 million breeding territories
  • Status: Amber

The wren is very common and widespread but not often seen, so people might find it strange to see this tiny bird on this list. This tiny bird doesn’t like humans or attention in general very much. After all, being seen by bigger birds isn’t good news, especially not if it’s a bird of prey. Wrens are a nice snack for hawks if they manage to catch them.

So, this little bird is usually doing its best to stay hidden, and thanks to its tiny size, it’s hard to spot. Wrens have a small, round body with a warm brown plumage (great for camouflage) and a cute, little tail. Males and females look the same.

These little birds love eating insects and spiders.

9. Dunnock

  • Scientific Name: Prunella modularis
  • Lifespan: 2-3years
  • Size: 14cm
  • Weight: 18-24g
  • Wingspan: 19-21cm
  • Population: 2.3 million breeding territories
  • Status: Amber

The dunnock is another small bird (but bigger than the wren) with brown plumage and a grey head and breast. Males and females look almost identical.

People often confuse this bird with a (female) sparrow because of its similar size and colour scheme. Sparrows, however, aren’t very common in the UK anymore (they’ve undergone a massive decline).

Dunnocks love insects, spiders, and worms. They also eat seeds, especially when the insect hunt is going poorly.

10. Carrion Crow

Carrion Crow
  • Scientific Name: Corvus corone
  • Lifespan: 5-10years
  • Size: 45-47cm
  • Weight: 370-650g
  • Wingspan: 93-104cm
  • Population: 1 million breeding territories
  • Status: Green

Carrion crows can be found all over the UK and are incredibly clever birds. They are completely black and have a thick bill. Males and females more or less look the same. You’d have to be an expert to notice the differences.

People often confuse carrion crows with ravens. One thing to keep in mind is that ravens are MUCH larger (with a wingspan of 120-150cm).

Carrion crows are rather impressive birds when you observe them, as they often use tools to get what they want.

They’ll eat almost anything, including actual carrion. They eat insects, worms, seeds, fruit, eggs and any scraps.


This list of common UK birds might not quite be what you expected, especially if you haven’t been to the UK in recent years. 10 years ago, the list of most common UK birds would have looked a little different. And, as sad as it is, the list will likely change again within the next 10 years.

Bird populations in the UK change frequently, and the numbers above are only estimations as it’s impossible to know the exact number of all birds. Unfortunately, some of the birds on this list have already moved to an amber conservation status, which is just one step away from going on the red list.

While some changes cannot be undone, we can all do our part to help birds and ensure that the conditions for them don’t get even worse. Be mindful when you’re out birdwatching and educate yourself about how you can make a difference in your part of the world.

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