Birds on Marsden Moor

Some species live on the moors all year round, and others visit in the spring and early summer to nest. Here is some information on some of the birds you might find on Marsden Moor.


    The twite (Carduelis flavirostris) is one of the rare birds that is known to nest on various areas of the estate. Twite populations have been in decline over the past 20 years, and numbers have now dropped by 90% since the late 1990's.

    Twite nest on the moorland fringe, in vegetation such as bracken, heather and bilberry. Their only food source is seed, for both adult birds and chicks, so it is important to have a reliable seed source all year round close to their nesting sites. At Marsden Moor we worked with the RSPB to help ensure we manage the habitat correctly to help protect the twite on the estate.

    Red Grouse

    A red grouse hiding amonst the heather

    The red grouse, which is only found in Britain, is one of the few birds to remain on the moor throughout the year.

    The grouse will only live on heather moorland, and it nests within the heather. It needs young plants to provide food, and older heather plants for shelter and nesting.

    The grouse is distinctive when it is disturbed and flies out of the heather fast, calling and beating its wings.



    The curlew is perhaps one of the most distinctive moorland birds. It has a long curved beak and a recognisable call. It is a fairly large wading bird.

    In the winter it migrates to the coast, returning to the moors to breed.

    The curlew is another species that has been in decline over the past years. Changes in land use have led to fewer suitable areas for the curlew to breed.


    Image of a skylark

    The skylark may be best known for its song in flight, and less easy to spot while on the ground.

    The skylark is another ground nesting bird, and again, the numbers are in decline. The birds need to rear 2 - 3 sets of chicks each year to maintain the populations, but a lack of food is making this impossible.

    Meadow pipit

    Meadow pipit

    The meadow pipit is the most common songbird that can be found in upland areas.

    Like the skylark, it is a ground nesting bird. It has a distinctive flight call, but can be distinguished from the skylark by its smaller size.

    Golden plover

    Golden plover

    The golden plover breed on moorland and blanket bog during the summer months.

    In the summer, their plumage is gold and black, making them fairly easy to identify. They can be quite hard to spot, but you may hear their plaintive call especially when they are nesting.


    High above the cliff tops the kestrel hovers effortlessly, searching for its prey of small mammals and crickets

    The kestrel is easily distinguished by its hovering in the wind prior to diving on to its prey on the ground, normally voles or mice.