Swifts flying over rooftops

Glasgow's wildlife

Despite its size, Glasgow is a fantastic place to see wildlife!

Wildlife to look out for in Glasgow

Below are just some of the many animals and insects to look out for in Glasgow.

In this list you’ll also see our 'priority species'. These are species which we’ve identified as being under threat in Glasgow, and which we’re working with schools and other organisations to help protect for the future. 

Peregrines

If there's a commotion among the pigeons, watch out for a peregrine soaring above. The world's fastest birds are now thriving in Glasgow, nesting on tower blocks and other structures - an urban version of the cliffs they use in more rural areas.

Where could I see peregrines?

Keep a look out for them swooping overhead, or perching on tall buildings such as church spires.

Swifts - A priority species

Swifts spend only a short time with us each year, from May to August.

Listen for their high-pitched screams as they speed through the skies. Apart from when they're growing up in their nest, and when they return to breed, they spend their whole lives in the skies - even for sleeping and mating!

Where could I see swifts?

You might see swifts feeding high overhead almost anywhere in Glasgow, but their nesting sites in buildings are becoming rarer.

How can I help swifts?

Give swifts a home with a special nestbox, or tell us where you've seen them.

Close up of a swift flying

What do swifts sound like?

Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto

Water voles - a priority species

Water voles are fat, fluffy rodents that usually make nests along streams and riverbanks (they're not really rats at all!).

They can be quite shy and hard to spot - when you walk along, listen for the 'plop' they make as they jump into the water as you approach.

Where could I see water voles?

One of the densest populations of water voles in Scotland can be found in Easterhouse. These unusual water voles live miles from water, and are found in areas of grass, very close to their human neighbours. They’re still very secretive though.

Water vole, Arvicola amphibius, on bank feeding, Peak District, UK

Otters

You've probably seen the antics of frolicking otters in wildlife TV programmes. But you don't need to head to a far-flung location to see them.

Otters have made Glasgow their home, thanks to cleaner water which means there's more prey for them to catch.

Where could I see otters?

Otters are one of the hardest animals to see on this list! They can sometimes be spotted along the banks of the River Kelvin.

European otter Lutra lutra, eating in sheltered spot, Norfolk, England, March

Pipistrelle bat - a priority species

There are 17 species of bats which live in the UK, but common pipistrelles are the ones you're most likely to see. They are tiny, weighing the same as a £1 coin, with a wingspan of around 20 cm.

Where could I see pipistrelles?

The best place to see them is at dusk around trees or close to rivers or ponds. You may be able to attract them to your garden by putting up a bat box.

How to help pipistrelles

You could build a cosy box for bats to live in.

Common Pipistrelle Bat hunting at twilight, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Berwickshire, Scotland

Kingfishers

Looking more like a tropical bird than something you might see in the city, kingfishers are surprisingly at home in Glasgow. They can be shy, but the easiest way to see a kingfisher is to listen for its approach - they whistle as they fly low over the water.

Where could I see kingfishers?

Good places to see and hear them are along the River Kelvin, particularly around the West End, and the White Cart Water in Pollok Park. 

Find out more about kingfishers in our wildlife guide.

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, emerging from water, Norfolk

What do kingfishers sound like?

Marco Dragonetti, Xeno-canto

Hedgehogs - a priority species

You might have noticed that hedgehogs aren't as common as they used to be.

Their numbers have dropped from 30 million in the UK in the 1950s, to only around a million today. Hedgehogs eat things like worms, slugs and snails.

Where could I see hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs are becoming much rarer in Glasgow. Springburn is a good area to spot them.

How to help hedgehogs

Try one of our fun activities to give hedgehogs a home.

House sparrows - a priority species

House sparrows used to be common birds in Glasgow, hopping around our streets and gardens. But it's much harder to see them now.

Their numbers have dropped by half across the whole of the UK and by up to 90 per cent in Glasgow, as there are fewer places for them to feed and breed.

Where could I see house sparrows?

Look for them in parks and gardens, particularly where there are areas of shrubby cover, or bird feeders present. If you don’t see them, you may hear their loud cheeps.

How to help house sparrows

Create a house sparrow 'street' - sparrows like to have some friends nesting nearby.

Find out more about house sparrows in our wildlife guide.

House sparrow bathing in pond

What do house sparrows sound like?

Jarek Matusiak, Xeno-canto

Bumblebees - a priority species

There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, but the ones you’re most likely to see in Glasgow are the common carder, garden and white-tailed.

Queen bumblebees emerge in the spring and create nests in holes in the ground, or under sheds. 

Where could I see bumblebees?

You’ll see bumblebees collecting nectar from flowers right through the summer.