Blackbird - Blackbirds only started appearing in urban gardens in the 1830’s. Up until this time they lived in woods or heathland.
Bluetit - Baby blue tits are very hungry little birds, their parents have to collect around 1000 small insects a day to feed them.
Chaffinch - Chaffinches have accents! Chaffinches from France sing different songs to those in the UK and even within the UK there is a variety in the songs of Chaffinches in the North, South, East and West.
Collared Dove - Collared Doves are a common species to see in the UK. Last year they came 10th in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch and were seen in over 50% of gardens. But 60 years ago you wouldn’t have seen any! Collared Doves only came to the UK in the 1950’s after a rapid spread across Europe from the Middle East.
Great Tit - Great Tits make their nests in holes in trees, walls or in nestboxes. They fill these with moss, grass, hair and feathers. Sometimes they choose very unusual places to make their nests. Great Tit nests have been found in the holes in scaffolding tubes and in people’s letterboxes!
House Sparrows - House sparrows thrive in close proximity to humans as they enjoy feeding on kitchen scraps, they have colonised most of the world but are now in decline. They used to be seen in flocks of hundreds on farmland but more recently they have become commoner in towns and villages. Despite this their numbers have declined by over 70% since the 1970’s.
Magpies - Magpies eat almost anything from seeds and berries to eggs, insects and small mammals. They have been known to pluck a whole pear from a tree and fly off with it. There are occasional records of them catching and killing bats, lizards and even snakes!
Robins - Robins are one of the UK’s most iconic and friendliest birds. They are resourceful and will make their nests almost anywhere, kettles, flowerpots, behind pianos and even in unmade beds. One gardener hung up his coat in the morning and when he came back at lunchtime he found that a Robin had made a nest in one of the pockets! Robins in the UK have become remarkably tame (in mainland Europe they’re a lot shyer) you can get a robin literally eating out of your hand by offering it dried mealworms.
Song thrush - Song thrushes use tools. When the weather is dry and they can’t find any worms to eat, they pick up stones and use these to break open snail shells to eat the juicy snail inside.
Starling - Starlings hold the record for being the most abundant species of wild bird in the world with an estimated population of 1,000 million! They are well known for their spectacular flocks and aerobatic displays. The largest recorded flock was spotted in Norfolk in 1958 and estimated to contain around 3 million starlings!
The largest flock of birds ever was recorded in Ontario, USA in 1866. It was described as being 1 mile long and took 14hours to pass over head, it was estimated to contain in excess of 3.5 billion birds. These weren't Starlings but Passenger Pigeons, the most abundant bird in the world in the 19th century there were around 5 billion living in North America when the Europeans arrived. Unfortunately they were a cheap and readily available source of meat and they were hunted mercilessly until by 1890 they were completely wiped out in the wild. The last Passenger Pigeon died in a zoo in 1914. This tragic tale demonstrates the catastrophic influence that humans can have on bird species and the need to protect all birds no matter how numerous they appear.