Britain's Most Colourful Birds

Updated on January 19, 2017
A feeding station for your garden birds
A feeding station for your garden birds | Source

Bird watching is a favourite hobby of many Brits, lots of people have bird feeders in their gardens which help to support our little friends through the cold winter months, and birdwatching in nature reserves or in what is left of Britain's wilderness is also a popular activity. Our native birds are sometimes thought of as a bit dull; however, there are a surprising number of beautiful and colourful birds in Britain, especially some of the little finches and tits. I have selected some of the best to showcase here.

In the bird world, the males are usually much more colourful than the females, as they compete to impress their mates, so the pictures here mainly show the male of each species.

The European goldfinch
The European goldfinch | Source

The Goldfinch

This pretty little bird is fairly common in our gardens and in the countryside, often seen in small groups feeding on seed heads, especially thistles, on a late summers day and building up some fat reserves before the winter sets in. Its striking gold and black bars and red face make it easy to recognise. Goldfinches are partially migrant, heading south for the winter and returning when the weather warms up.

Male bullfinch
Male bullfinch | Source

The Bullfinch

There are many beautifully coloured finches, but the most colourful in Britain is the bullfinch. This cheeky little chap is known for nipping the buds off of fruit bushes and trees, but they are not as common as they used to be, and nowadays do quite well out of of bird feeders in gardens, so are not really such a menace.

The blue tit
The blue tit | Source

The Blue Tit

A dainty little bird that is common on our bird feeders, the blue tit is recognisable by its blue cap and yellow chest. They are smaller, and slightly more shy than the closely related great tit (pictured below).

They enjoy seeds, nuts and fatballs on the bird table.

The great tit
The great tit | Source

The Great Tit

The great tit is larger and more brightly coloured than the blue tit, although quite similar in appearance, it has bolder black markings and no blue. It is a gregarious little bird, and one of the most common seen on bird feeders. They enjoy nuts, seeds and fatballs on the bird table.

The great spotted woodpecker
The great spotted woodpecker | Source

The Great Spotted Woodpecker

This striking bird lives mainly in wooded areas, but is also fairly common in parks and gardens so long as there are a few trees around. The great spotted woodpecker has red patches on the back of the head and on the underbelly, with distinct black and white markings. The closely related lesser spotted woodpecker looks quite similar, but is smaller and does not have the red patch on the underside. They are often seen on garden bird feeders where they enjoy feasting on peanuts.

The common kingfisher (or Eurasian kingfisher)
The common kingfisher (or Eurasian kingfisher) | Source

The Kingfisher

The kingfisher, with its brilliant azure blue back and fiery orange chest is a bird that you are unlikely to see in the garden unless you have a pond or river that contains fish. It is most frequently seen perching on a branch overhanging a riverbank, waiting for its next meal to swim by, or you may just catch a glimpse of blue as it flashes past along the river, diving in to catch a fish. These beautiful and brilliantly coloured birds are not as common as they used to be, due to pollution and diversion of waterways, and are now a protected species in Britain.

Questions & Answers


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      • CraftytotheCore profile image

        CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

        Beautiful birds! We have similar woodpeckers here in the northeast USA. I used to have about 20 or so gold finch that would hang out at the thistle feeder in my back yard. I didn't get one this year. I don't really understand what happened. I've had them coming around for years.

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        Anita 4 years ago

        They bring so much love and life stories into our life. We love the Barn Owls. They are such good ptaners and take care of their young and even after the young have fledged they continue teaching them how to hunt. Barn Owls have the most beautiful faces and each one has their own expressions and mannerisms. Our schools need to have a life science class program or project to learn and educate them about the birds of their states or of the United States. Children learn so many life lessons from birds. How to be in a family, take care of each other and love their environment. Birds are very musical about their happiness and about their warnings. If we listen to them they all tell a story with their musical expressions. The barn owls are so graceful and beautiful in flight. Birds help when you are troubled and sad. They give you peace with their songs and flight. It would be a much better world if we looked it thru the eyes and soul of birds.

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        Andrea 4 years ago

        I love the sound of Kayleigh's garden with the things for the birds. I wonder which types of birds you can see in your garden? I wonder who wins in your tig game, Meghna? Well done for your super sentences!

      • sgbrown profile image

        Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

        Beautiful hub! I love learning about the birds from other areas of the world. You have some very beautiful birds in your area. Here in southern Oklahoma, we have the "tufted titmouse" and the goldfinch passes through in the spring. Hubby hates the woodpeckers because they are so noisy, but I love to watch them! Great hub, voted up, beautiful and interesting! :)

      • aviannovice profile image

        Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

        Thanks for sharing your beautiful birds. This gives me the chance to learn about yours, and I find your kingfisher quite the handsome one. Our belted males are blue and white, while the female has rust coloration upon her, too. Any more that you care to share, please don't hesitate!

      • Imogen French profile image

        Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

        Thank you travmaj. I think it was blue tits that were responsible for pecking the milk bottle caps - back in the days when we had lovely full cream milk delivered to our doorsteps in proper glass bottles with foil caps! Aah, nostalgia ... :-)

      • travmaj profile image

        travmaj 5 years ago from australia

        This is a lovely reminder of my childhood in Britain. We often went on Nature walks from school and home so bird spotting was just what we did.. We had our bird feeder- particularly in winter months and I recall birds pecking the top from the milk bottle. Thanks for this - voting beautiful

      • Imogen French profile image

        Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

        Hi Ghost32, I agree, it is interesting to see the differences in related species around the world. Thanks for reading and for the votes :)

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        Ghost32 5 years ago

        Interesting. Many of your birds as depicted here are definitely not denizens of the western United States. Not that they should be. Our kingfishers and yours both have the "kingfisher look", for example, but yours is WAY more colorful.

        Voted Up and More.