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An in-depth guide to garden birds

26th April 2021


Over the last year and a half people have spent an increasingly large portion of their time in their gardens, enjoying the weather and the changing seasons. Gardens can be tranquil places to sit back and relax as well as enjoy with friends and family, especially for those with limited mobility who rely on stairlifts who may not be able to get out as much as in previous years.

As many of us have taken to updating our outdoor spaces, over the last few months, similar to what was discussed in the article ‘How the UK has changed their homes during lockdown’ you may have spotted some new additions as the seasons have started to change and the temperatures have increased. Gardens are great places to do some bird spotting and there are a few breeds that can often be spotted dotting about your outdoor space looking for food and items for their nests.

If you love getting a glimpse of your favourite birds then there are a few things you can do to attract them, some signs you should look out for when watching and some special breeds that may make an appearance once in a while. Carry on reading to find out some more information about some of the birds to look out for in your garden over the coming weeks.

Popular garden birds

There are so many breeds of birds that could make their way into your garden, but there are a few that will come back time and time again as Heather from Wiggly Wigglers explains a little more: “According to the latest RSPB Garden Bird Watch, the most likely visitor to your garden this year is the humble house sparrow, but you can also expect to see starlings, blackbirds, blue tits and great tits, as well as robins. In our garden, we also often have green woodpeckers, spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, long-tailed tits, chaffinches, dunnocks, siskins, bramblings and thrushes.”

Below are some of the popular birds, a little more about them and some simple things you can do to try and attract them to your garden.



Robins are one of the most popular breeds of bird and are a common sight in peoples gardens. Known as Britain’s unofficial national bird, the Robins do not migrate meaning they can be spotted outdoors all year round. They are often less visible during the summer months due to the more abundant food supplies but will still make an appearance on your bird table once in a while.

If you’re looking to attract them to your bird table then they are often intrigued by suet, mealworms and seeds, but can often be wary at first, so allow them a little time to get comfortable with your garden and the new additions.

Key features:

  • Red body
  • Small in size
  • Shy and quiet
  • Appear all year round

Blue Tit


Blue Tits are easily spotted by their blue and yellow feathers, although small they are often spotted in UK gardens and can often be seen in pairs. The males feathers are often a lot brighter than the females feathers, which easily distinguishes them from one another.

They love insects, caterpillars, seeds, and nuts so if you’re wanting to attract them to your garden then consider adapting the food you put out so there is something to attract all types of birds.

Key features:

  • Blue and yellow body
  • Often seen in pairs
  • Males are brighter than females
  • Small in size



There are a few varieties of Sparrows, the House Sparrow and the Tree Sparrow and both of them are Finch-like birds. They can often be identified by their round wings, stout and upright body and broad heads.

The Tree Sparrows are often smaller than the House Sparrows and both are known for their noisy and gregarious calls to one another or their fellow flock members. Sparrows can be seen in all areas like cities and towns as well as farmland and the countryside.

Key features:

  • Two types of Sparrow
  • Round wings, broad heads and stout body
  • Noisy and gregarious
  • Can be seen everywhere



Although they are named the Blackbird, only the male species are black, the female is often dark brown in colour and has spots and streaks on their chests. They are a little larger than many of the other birds found in the common garden but are still as frequently seen.

Blackbirds often feed on a variety of food items including insects and worms, as well as berries and fruit when in season.

Key features:

  • Larger in size
  • Males are black, females are brown
  • Eat insects, worms, berries and fruit
  • Have spots and streaks on their chest



Highly coloured and hard to miss if spotted in your garden, the Goldfinch are sociable birds and can often be heard singing and twittering in the mornings. Heather from Wiggly Wigglers explains a little more about these delightful birds:

“Goldfinches are attracted to seed heads of plants such as teasel, and the seed supply can be augmented by refilling the seed heads with niger (or nyjer) seeds - which they love! Whatever your location the main way to attract plenty of garden birds is to offer a good variety of food and beneficial habitat - when you do this you will be rewarded with your own birdy soap opera right outside your window.”

Key features:

  • Bright in colour
  • Social birds who often sing
  • Attracted to seed heads
  • Medium in size



Smaller than blackbirds but similar in appearance, the Starlings are short and their feathers often flash tinges of green and purple when caught in the sunlight. They’re quick and nippy and can jump about quickly on the ground, so you won’t see them sitting in one place for too long!

Often feeding on invertebrates and nuts, they’re not too fussy so will often fly into your outdoor spaces for simple bird food and fat balls.

Key features:

  • Similar to blackbirds in size
  • Green and purple feathers
  • Nippy and quick
  • Feed on nuts and invertebrates



“Insect-eating birds, such as wrens and treecreepers are unlikely to visit bird tables, although if it gets particularly cold it’s much more likely. To help them out push food into cracks of bark for treecreepers food and for wrens, put beside an ivy-covered wall, a stump or along a hedge bottom.” Heather explains.

She continues: “Wrens love mealworms and for us seeing a tiny wren on the bird table is something very special.”

Wrens are one of the smallest garden birds and are often stout and broad. Although they are small they are also known for their remarkable loud voices that can be heard from some distance away.

Key features:

  • One of the smallest garden birds
  • Often shy away from bird tables so often feed away from others
  • Enjoy mealworms
  • Stout and broad

How to attract birds to your garden


There are plenty of ways you can attract all manner of birds to your garden and there are some simple tips and tricks that you can take on board that will really help you on your quest to seeing some of these British beauties. Below are a few things to keep in mind when trying to attract birds, as well as a few tips from some bird-watching enthusiasts.

Offer an array of food and treats

Of course, having an array of food on offer will hopefully attract a wider variety of birds, but it is important to know which birds like which food, not all birds are attracted by nuts and seeds.

“I suspect our range is due to having so much variety of food for birds put out for them and also from our farm’s harvest and hedgerows which are a good source of food and shelter, and of course the farm has a good amount of woodland which means birds like nuthatches and woodpeckers gain confidence to fly over for a tasty mealworm or two,” Heather explains.

What food do different birds eat:

  • Robin – Suet, seeds and mealworms
  • Blue Tit - Insects, caterpillars, seeds, and nuts
  • Sparrow – Plants and seeds
  • Blackbird – Insects, worms, berries and fruit
  • Goldfinch – Seeds and plants
  • Starling - Invertebrates and nuts
  • Wren - Insects

Karen who enjoys wildlife photography and displays it all at Karen Miller Photography talks a little more about some of the food to offer to attract more birds to your garden:

“The best way to attract birds to your garden is to hang sunflower heart feeders. These seeds are loved by all garden birds and don't start growing under the feeder unlike many of the mixed seed bags you can purchase. In winter fat/suet balls are appreciated too, but do buy good quality unnetted ones. Start by putting out small amounts of food and the local birds will soon find it. The birds you see will depend on where you live but you're likely to spot house sparrows, blue tits and robins plus members of the finch family such as goldfinch and siskin. My favourite garden bird is the long-tailed tit, primarily because they are adorable! These birds appear in gardens in large flocks during the winter and love the suet balls I provide.”

Keep animals away


One of the main reasons birds may not be spending their time in your garden is if you have animals. Birds are shy creatures and often take a while to trust spaces, so if they see an animal lurking they will often find food elsewhere.

If neighbouring cats often visit your garden then Discover Wildlife have a few tips on their website: “Place feeders away from a low cover that could conceal a cat – they are sit-and-wait predators and rely on cover to sneak up on their prey.”

Placing your food up high or on a raised bird table is the easiest and best way to keep animals like cats and squirrels from taking the food and scaring any possible birds.

Choose suitable locations for nest boxes

Nest boxes are another way that you can attract birds. Bird nesting season is usually from February until August so adding places to your garden where they can lay their eggs is always a great idea.

Think carefully about where you place your boxes, birds are often more attracted to boxes that are in quiet areas of the garden near or surrounded by lots of shrubs for privacy and safety. If your bird box isn’t getting much attention then try moving it around your garden and seeing if you get a bit more luck.

Much like bird feeders, always place your boxes up high out the way of predators and get boxes that suit the size of bird you are trying to attract – a Blackbird isn’t going to be able to fit into a nest box designed for Blue Tits or Robins.

Discover Wildlife have a little more information on their website about how to re-purpose your boxes year after year: “Check your nest boxes each winter. Remove old nests and clean the boxes with hot water to kill parasites. Re-attach them securely – you don’t want the box to fall when it’s in use.”

If you’re a lover of wildlife and often spend time making your garden homely and special, then why not think about adding some of these additions to attract some of the most popular British birds?

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.