Six birds to spot in your garden this winter

Croome Blue Tit

Our ecologist Peter Brash picks his top six birds to see in the garden this winter.

Feeding garden birds in winter is one of the easiest ways to get close to wildlife and the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to contribute to citizen science from the comfort of your home.

The number and variety of birds you see is likely to be driven by the weather.

Get mild conditions and you are likely to be graced by small numbers of your regular feathered friends.

But a cold snap could see much excitement as greater numbers and variety of species go in search of sustenance.

Here are my top birds to spot in your garden this winter. 

Follow one of the four way marked trails on the Buckland estate

1. House sparrow

One of our most familiar garden birds. But one that has declined by over 65 per cent in the last 25 years. The sound of a flock chattering away in tuneless chirps is one of the most evocative natural sounds. Garden hedges and allotments could be key to its persistence in cities.

A starling standing in the snow

2. Starlings

Another garden regular that has undergone an even steeper decline than the house sparrow. In winter the starling’s glossy, petrol-stain plumage is covered with a constellation of straw-coloured tips. In winter many of our starlings have travelled from the Baltic States and even Russia.

Blue tit in Winter

3. Blue tit

Acrobatic and colourful, blue tits are one of the most popular garden visitors. Seeing blue and great tits together at eye level in a tree canopy was my epiphany moment with nature and started a lifelong love affair. Their population has seen an upward trend since the 1970s.

Brightly coloured goldfinch

4. Goldfinch

Goldfinches are a modern success story with a huge increase since the mid-1980s, thought to be due in part to feeding in gardens. With ruby coloured faces, bright yellow flashes on the wings and musical twittering it’s easy to see why flocks are known as 'charms'.

Woodpigeon

5. Woodpigeon

Another recent winner among garden bird, woodpigeons have white patches on their neck and wings. This, and their large size, separates them from other pigeons. Woodpigeons are cumbersome clumsy birds and will often hog the bird table hoovering up seed.

Long-tailed tit

6. Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tits are restlessly active, constantly communicative and as cute as a button. Formerly a bird of woodlands and hedges and a shy and irregular garden visitor, long-tailed tits have become garden favourites as they have increased in numbers and become bolder.