RSPB
Skip navigation
Join the RSPB

Help us give nature a home from £3 a month.

Print page

Birds by family

Accentors

A European and Asian family, with few species, only two in Europe and one in the UK. Accentors are small, inconspicuous, streaked birds. More...

Accentors

Auks

These are medium-sized seabirds with long, barrel-shaped bodies, short tails, very small wings and short legs set far back on the body. More...

Auks

Bitterns and herons

Herons are small to very large. All have long legs with particularly long toes, broad and rounded wings, and long necks. More...

Bitterns and herons

Boobies and gannets

Gannets are large seabirds, with long, tapered bodies, long, angular, pointed wings, pointed tails and dagger-like, pointed bills. More...

Boobies and gannets

Buntings

The buntings of Europe, Asia and Africa are related to American sparrows. They are rather finch-like but have differently-structured bills, slightly flatter heads and longer bodies, and many have longer tails with white sides. More...

Buntings

Chats and thrushes

'Chats' are small, quite slender or robin-like birds with fine bills and slender legs, slim and sometimes colourful tails and short, round wings. 'Thrushes' are generally larger, often spotted underneath, but in some species, males are unspotted and clearly different from females. More...

Chats and thrushes

Cormorants and shags

Large, dark water birds, in the UK just two species, one essentially marine, the other found on all kinds of waters. They are long-bodied, quite large-tailed birds, with broad wings and long necks, and a general shape somewhere between divers and geese. More...

Cormorants and shags

Cranes

Cranes are large, somewhat heron- or stork-like birds, with thicker, tapered necks, small heads and strong bills, heavy but tapered bodies, long legs and long, broad wings which allow them to soar and glide expertly in flight. More...

Cranes

Crows

Crows are medium to large birds; many species are black or black and grey; others are pied; others are more colourful or well-patterned. Eight species breed in the UK; there are many others around the world. More...

Crows

Cuckoos

Two species of cuckoos regularly visit Europe, only one in the UK; there are many other species worldwide, taking their name from the familiar European one which calls ‘cuckoo’ in spring. More...

Cuckoos

Dippers

Dippers are rounded, short-tailed, rather wren-like birds in form but almost thrush-sized; a striking feature is the large white bib against otherwise dark plumage. More...

Dippers

Divers

Divers have long, slender bodies, moderately long necks and dagger-shaped bills, quite long but narrow wings and small legs (with long, lobed toes) set far back on the body. They are expert swimmers and divers but unable to stand or walk on land. More...

Divers

Falcons and allies

Small to medium-sized birds of prey with tapered wings and tails. Several groups, including the kestrels, which hover while searching for food, and the larger, peregrine-like falcons, which are fast-flying, agile and dramatic. More...

Falcons and allies

Finches

Finches are small birds with forked or notched tails, moderately pointed wings, rounded or elongated bodies and round heads, with more or less triangular bills. The bill shape varies according to the principal type of food, from short and rounded to rather long and sharp. More...

Finches

Flycatchers

A large family worldwide, with several European but just two regular UK species, both migrants from Africa. They sit rather upright on short legs, have tapered tails, large eyes and shallow but broad bills, which help them catch flying insects. They are quite long-winged and agile in flight More...

Flycatchers

Grebes

Grebes are small to medium-sized water birds, characterised by their pointed bills (long and dagger-like in larger species), round bodies, tiny tails and legs set far back on the body. More...

Grebes

Grouse

Medium to large-sized ‘gamebirds’, grouse are somewhat partridge-like, with rounded bodies, short, broad wings and small heads with stout, arched bills. They feed on shoots, buds and seeds of small shrubs and herbs. More...

Grouse

Gulls

Small to large seabirds, many of which also live inland for at least part of the year; some are strictly marine. Most are grey, black and white when fully mature, but extensively marked with various shades of brown during from one to four years of immaturity. More...

Gulls

Hawks and eagles

These birds of prey have hooked bills, and vary in size from the sparrowhawk up to the white-tailed eagle. More...

Hawks and eagles

Hoopoe

Hoopoes are medium-sized birds with long, broad, rounded wings, slightly decurved bills and unique fan-like crests that open over the top of the head. More...

Hoopoe

Ibises and spoonbills

Spoonbills are characterised by their flattened bills with spatulate tips which are swept from side to side, partly open, through shallow water to detect food. The glossy ibis is an increasingly frequent stray from southern Europe. More...

Ibises and spoonbills

Kingfishers

Kingfishers have stout bodies, very short tails, short, rounded wings, large heads and long, dagger-like bills. More...

Kingfishers

Larks

Most larks are pale brown with dark streaks in subtly different patterns. They have rounded wings and rather short tails, stout legs with a long, arched hind claw and strong, triangular, pointed bills. More...

Larks

Long-tailed tits

Related to several species in Asia, but only one in the UK and Europe; long-tailed tits are small-bodied, long-tailed birds with short legs and tiny, triangular bills. More...

Long-tailed tits

Nightjars

Nightjars are inactive by day, well hidden by their cryptic plumage patterns, but become active at dusk, when their strange calls and songs may be heard. They have broad heads and very short bills, but wide mouths, helping them to catch moths in flight. More...

Nightjars

Nuthatches

One UK species, with a second in Europe and a few elsewhere. Nuthatches are somewhat woodpecker-like, but more agile, perching up on their feet with bodies and tails held well clear; they can descend head-first and hang upside down beneath twigs and branches. More...

Nuthatches

Orioles

Orioles are boldly patterned, especially in males (but also on some older females) with much black and yellow in the plumage. They have loud, fluty, musical but brief songs. More...

Orioles

Osprey

A specialised, fish-eating bird of prey, most similar to the buzzards or eagles in general appearance. It has a long hook on the bill, used for tearing apart fish, and has specially adapted legs and feet. More...

Osprey

Owls

Owls are specialised birds with round heads and rather flat or dished faces, with forward-facing eyes and a short, hooked bill. Most are nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) but some may be seen by day. More...

Owls

Oystercatchers

Oystercatchers are wading birds, found on freshwater and seawater margins and on drier ground inland, including pastures, riverside fields and similar areas around flooded gravel workings. More...

Oystercatchers

Parrots

There are no native parrots in Europe, but one species has been accidentally introduced into a number of areas, including south-east England. More...

Parrots

Partridges, quails, pheasants and allies

Small, medium and large-sized gamebirds, from the tiny quail to the long-tailed, large-bodied pheasants, all with short, curved bills, small heads, rounded bodies and short legs. More...

Partridges, quails, pheasants and allies

Petrels and shearwaters

Seabirds, related to albatrosses and sharing peculiar arrangement of nostrils, giving the alternative name, ‘tubenoses’. Strictly marine, many coming ashore to breed in burrows, then only under the cover of darkness, although one of the most widespread, the fulmar, nests on open ledges. More...

Petrels and shearwaters

Pigeons and doves

There is no strict division between pigeons and doves, which share certain features, including small, rounded heads, small, slim bills with a small fleshy patch at the base, rounded bodies with dense, soft feathers, tapered wings and short, scaly legs, and cooing or crooning calls. More...

Pigeons and doves

Pipits and wagtails

Pipits are lark-like in their streaky plumage and long hind claws but smaller and more slender than larks, often longer-tailed. Wagtails are similar in form but even longer-tailed, most species more or less associated with watery habitats More...

Pipits and wagtails

Plovers and lapwings

One of the largest groups within the ‘waders’ or shorebirds. Quite short to long legs, but short bills; feed with characteristic run-stop-tilt forward action. More...

Plovers and lapwings

Rails

Rails are mostly secretive and elusive rather than shy, living in dense vegetation such as reeds and overgrown pools and communicating with loud calls. More...

Rails

Sandpipers and allies

The sandpipers form a large group within the 'waders' or shorebirds, with several distinct sub-groups. More...

Sandpipers and allies

Shrikes

Two species of shrike are regular in the UK, one of which used to breed; several others are very rare visitors. More...

Shrikes

Skuas

Skuas are 'piratical' birds, gaining much of their food by stealing it from other seabirds. They make a very small family with just four northern hemisphere species. More...

Skuas

Sparrows

Sparrows are finch-like birds. They have stout bodies, rounded wings and broad heads, with deep, conical bills adapted for seed-eating. More...

Sparrows

Starlings

A family of small birds in Europe, Asia and Africa; many are strikingly coloured and iridescent. One species is regular in the UK, both as a resident and as a winter visitor. More...

Starlings

Stilts and avocets

Elegant, long-legged wading birds; stilts (rare in the UK) have especially long, slender legs with short toes and needle-like bills, while avocets have slender, upcurved bills adapted for a sideways sweep across the surface of wet mud or through shallow water to find food. More...

Stilts and avocets

Stone-curlews

Also known as thick-knees, stone-curlews are medium-sized birds, related to waders and bustards, most of which live in dry places. More...

Stone-curlews

Swallows and martins

Swallows and martins are mostly small, elegant, aerial species with long, tapered wings, forked tails (often with elongated outer feathers) and small bills but wide mouths, for catching insects in flight. More...

Swallows and martins

Swans, ducks and geese

The 'wildfowl', medium to large birds with rather long or very long necks, mostly short, broad bills, short legs and the front three toes joined by webs. There are specialised groups, such as the mergansers ('sawbills'), which have saw-tooth edges to more slender, hooked bills, which help them to grasp fish. More...

Swans, ducks and geese

Swifts

Swifts have elongated, cigar-shaped bodies, short, forked tails, very small bills but wide mouths, long, stiff, scythe-shaped wings and tiny legs, with all four toes facing forwards. More...

Swifts

Terns

Terns are small to medium birds, mostly smaller and slimmer than most of the gulls. All are migratory, often seen outside their breeding areas in spring and autumn, but absent from Europe in winter. More...

Terns

Tits

Tits are small birds with plain or colourful plumages, stout legs and strong feet and short, triangular bills. Several species have crests. More...

Tits

Treecreepers

Treecreepers are mottled brown above, white or whitish beneath, and have stiff tails, used in the manner of woodpeckers’ as support when climbing, and large feet with sharp, arched claws. Their bills are curved and sharp, for extracting insect food and seeds from crevices in tree bark. More...

Treecreepers

Warblers and allies

'Leaf’ warblers are slender and greenish birds of woodland and scrub, with simple soft call notes, while ‘reed’ warbler types are browner and live in wet places, and the ‘Sylvia’ warblers are generally more patterned. More...

Warblers and allies

Waxwings

Waxwings are starling-sized, stout-bodied, short-legged birds with an upstanding, pointed crest. They have black throats, black wings with white, yellow and waxy red markings and yellow-tipped tails. More...

Waxwings

Wrens

Wrens are round-bodied, short-tailed and short-winged, with pointed bills and quite strong feet. They explore shady, overgrown places low down, on or near the ground, for small insects and spiders. More...

Wrens

Wrynecks and woodpeckers

More...

Wrynecks and woodpeckers