architect's picture

Latest observations of Birds

Birds are probably the most-watched type of wildlife. They are easy to see virtually wherever you are, they are colourful and active, you can observe their fascinating behaviour - what's not to like?

And there are plenty of them to see, with around 250 species regularly seen in the UK and over 500 if you include all the scarcer migrants and vagrants. Some of these are familiar garden residents, such as Robin and Blackbird, while for others you need to visit their homes, e.g. for some of the sea-birds and waders.


Birds can usually be identified from some combination of their colour, shape, size, behaviour and song. Spend some time watching the birds in your garden or local park and get familiar with them, they will act as a good comparison when looking at other species later on. Bird songs and calls are a fascinating subject in their own right, and can help provide clues to identification (in fact for some species the calls are the easiest way to identify them).

Photography for identification

It can be difficult to get close enough to birds to take photographs, unless you have telephoto lenses or other specialised equipment, but with patience you can often get a clear enough image to allow identification. Try to take a range photos showing the bird from several angles, and supplement these with descriptions of any distinctive features. Make a note of size (e.g. in comparison to a species you are familiar with - "as large as a woodpigeon", "smaller than a blackbird" etc.). Watch out for any distinctive behaviour or movements and flight patterns, and if you hear it call or sing try to describe that as well.

Nesting birds are protected by law and are vulnerable to disturbance if not approached with care. In order to avoid any possibility of potential disturbance, photos of nesting birds, or active nests, are not allowed on iSpot. The BTO's Nest Record Scheme (NRS) is a volunteer survey which collects information on the nests of all bird species for conservation monitoring purposes. If you would like to know more about visiting nests safely in order to monitor their contents for the NRS, please read the Nest Recorder's Code of Conduct.

Useful links

Identification and information

Bird recording and conservation

The British Trust for Ornithology is the major organisation for recording and analysing data about birds in Britain. They organise large-scale surveys across the country, including national bird atlases, the Breeding Birds Survey, Nest Records Scheme and Garden BirdWatch, and also collate data from bird ringing in the UK.

The BTO also works with the network of county bird recorders.

You can send in your bird records using BirdTrack, an excellent online bird recording system from the BTO, RSPB and other partners.

The leading bird conservation society is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who work closely with the BTO and many other organisations.

Find out what else is happening in your area from your local Wildlife Trust.