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How to identify a bird

The best way to learn how to identify birds is to practice little and often; a comfy seat next to a window in your home is the ideal location.

Some garden birds can look quite similar at first glance, so it’s a good idea to keep a pair of binoculars handy. To get you started, take a look at our interactive bird guide.

To attract as many birds as possible, it’s a good idea to put a variety of bird food around your garden. If you only have enough space for one feeder, fill it with an all-round bird food such as Peckish Complete Seed and Nut Mix; it contains 12 different ingredients to attract a variety of birds.

An even easier option is our Peckish Complete Easy Feeder, which is pre-filled and can be reused again and again.

A Siskin

A Greenfinch

Pay particular attention to:

  • Size (a Siskin and a Greenfinch look very similar, but the Greenfinch is easily recognisable as it’s much larger)
  • Head markings
  • Patterns on the breast and belly of the bird

As you get more experienced, it’s a good idea to invest in a bird identification guide. This will teach you how to identify a much larger range of birds, and also how to tell the difference between males and females of the same species (as sometimes they can look quite different!).

Once you’re practised and feeling confident, consider taking part in the BTO’s (British Trust for Ornithology) Garden BirdWatch. This weekly involves thousands of people across the UK who report on the status of birds in their garden; this helps the BTO determine increases and decreases in particular species, as well as other trends which can indicate changes in bird health.

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