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Species Spied: Birds



Tawny Owl on camera trap

There have been 574 species of wild bird recorded in the UK but these range from long term residents, who also breed in the UK, to those which pass through during their migration and those which may have only popped up once or twice.

NatureSpy have captured about thirty species of birds on our camera traps. We most often capture ground dwelling birds, but occasionally we may also be lucky enough to have a bird of prey sweep in and sometimes small common birds fancy a cameo.

Often birds enter the frame by chance when we are looking for mammals but it is also possible to set up a camera trap with a HD or close-focus lens on a bird table or if you are careful near a nest box. Often birds are simply to fast to capture at the nest, but sometimes you can get lucky.

Click on the tabs above to learn more and see NatureSpy photos and videos of the bird species we have captured.

Posts about birds...

Ground dwellers & water birds

Ground dwellers

Grey heron on camera trapPhesants (Phasianus colchicus) are an introduced species  to the UK. They are found across the UK particularly in rural areas and feed mainly on seeds and shoots. Both males, with their regal plumage, and plainer females seem to enjoy stealing the shown in some of our camera trap locations - watch it here.

Red legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) are another introduced species in the UK most often found in the east of England but increasingly throughout Wales too. You may see them at any time of year, often in pairs, and they mainly feed on seeds and roots.

Water birds

Woodcocks (Scolopax rusticola) are wading birds with very long bills, which it uses to feed on worms and insects. They are most active at night. There is a large resident population in the UK but many also travel from Finland and Russia to winter here. It is thought that their population is falling in the UK due to habitat loss. They are rarely seen so camera traps offer a great opportunity to do so without disturbing this shy bird - watch it here.

Grey herons (Ardea cinerea) are easily identified with their grey plumage and long gangly legs and long beak. A number of grey herons have strutted past our camera traps. They can be found near any source of water and at any time of the year as British herons do not migrate. In addition to fish they may eat small mammals and birds (even ducklings!).

Birds of prey

Birds of prey

Buzzard camera trapBuzzards (Buteo buteo) are now the most common bird of prey in the UK and they vary in colour from dark to pale brown but always have dark wingtips. Their strange call almost sounds like a mewing cat. They usually feed on small mammals but may also eat birds, insects and reptiles - even worms. They are found in almost all habitats, including cities.

Tawny owls (Strix aluco) are small and rounded in shape with a face encircled by dark feathers. Their body is a reddish-brown colour ('tawny'!) with a pale underneath. They are found in all areas of the UK except Ireland. They form pairs and maintain territories which they rarely leave. They are active at night (nocturnal) so rarely seen and only heard. This makes camera traps a fantastic way of seeing them without disturbing their daytime slumber (roosting). You may be able to locate them by finding pellets below their roosting sites. Tawny owls feed on small mammals, reptiles, insects and small birds.

Little owls (Athene noctua) are an introduced species in the UK. They hunt at night and dawn but may be seen during the day. Camera traps are a great way to view these birds without alarming them, which usually leads to a spooky head bobbing reaction! We captured one calmly looking around. They are most commonly seen in England and Wales, particularly farm hedgerows, parkland and orchards. However, it is thought their numbers are in decline in the UK.

Other birds

Other birds we have found...

blue tits camera trapWe have captured a beautiful HD close up of some blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) on our bird table. These birds are found across  the UK and feed on insects, seeds and nuts. In winter they flock together and if you have five on your feeder at a time you may actually be feeding a group of twenty.

Magpies (Pica pica) are known for their love of shiny things, their black and white plumage and their ruthless habit of feeding on eggs and chicks of other bird species. They can also be beneficial to farmers by eating ticks off livestock. Their name comes from their harsh chattering call ('mag' means chatterer) and their black and white colouring ('pie' or 'pied').

Jays (Garrulus glandarius) are a species of crow and are actually quite shy woodland birds and so quite difficult to spot normally. Jays are fans of acorns and they may even bury them to have a stash ready for winter.

Great tits (Parus major) are the largest species of tit in the UK and have beautiful colouring but are often bullies at the bird table. Watch them feeding here.

Robins (Erithacus rubecula) are a favourite bird in the UK but are actually quite territorial; this one seems to having words with our camera trap. Both males and females have a red breast but young robins are golden brown and spotted. They generously provide us with endless song all year round.

We have also caught blackbirds, woodpigeons, chaffinches, bullfinches, grey partridge, collared doves, dunnocks, and carrion crows - to name a few! See more photos of these species by clicking on the photos tab above.


Camera trap photos of birds


Camera trap videos of birds