We've all seen the common city pigeon and the famous robin, pictured for decades on Christmas cards, but how much do you know about the other birds of the UK?

Red kite

With its beautiful rust red, black and white plumage, the red kite is rare but slowly returning to larger numbers in the UK after being protected. Visit the Galloway Red Kite Trail for the best chance of seeing these graceful birds of prey, with around 1,600 breeding pairs across the United Kingdom.

 

Golden eagle

Perhaps the most majestic of all birds that can be seen in the UK, the golden eagle is a large bird of prey and a particularly spectacular sight. There are only 440 breeding pairs in the United Kingdom, and your best chance of seeing a golden eagle is in the Scottish Highlands. Haweswater in Cumbria is also home to a small population of golden eagles.

 

Merlin

The merlin is the smallest bird of prey in the UK. There are approximately 1,000 - 1,500 breeding pairs across the United Kingdom. The Merseyside area is a good place to see the Merlin through the winter, when they spend time near the coast.

 

Oystercatcher

Large black and white waders, oystercatchers have brightly coloured orange bills and large webbed feet. These particularly striking birds can be found all along the coasts, particularly around Morecambe.

 

Lapwing

Notable for its head decoration, the lapwing is a black and white bird with marbled wings. Lapwings are still a fairly common sight in the UK, but they're in fast decline, which means they might become harder to spot as the years go on. Currently there are around 140,000 breeding pairs of lapwings in the UK. If you're looking for these birds, you're most likely to find them on the Somerset Levels.

 

Curlew

Easy to spot because of their curved beaks, sloping downward, curlews are large wading birds that can be seen along UK waterways, including the Severn, the Thames and the Humber. They can be seen all year but are typically in their biggest numbers through January and February.

 

Common guillemot

The black and white common guillemot is a resident UK bird that can be seen on islands and outcrops off the shore of the UK. Guillemots aren't rare birds, but what makes them hard to spot is that they so rarely make their way to the land. To see guillemots you might choose to take a boat trip - once you spot them, you'll see them in their hundreds taking up every inch of space on a cliff. Boat trips from Seahouses in Northumberland will take you out to see the guillemots around the Farne Islands.

 

Long eared owl

There are a number of native owls in the UK, including the barn owl and tawny owl. One of the most distinctive, with its ear tufts, is the long eared owl. These birds are particularly hard to spot, being nocturnal and also shying away from built-up areas. Long eared owls might be seen in Castle Ward in County Down, and in Woodbridge in Suffolk.

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