top of page

Some other small birds of woodlands and gardens

None of the birds in this note benefit from garden bird feeders, these are birds for whom gardens are just an extension of the woodland itself so they are only occasional visitors to gardens that have suitable food.


Another very strong singer, despite being one of the smallest of UK birds, is the Wren. Being small they need to eat more or less continuously just to maintain their body temperature and many die during very cold winters. They are often hard to see when searching for food as they are clad in camouflage browns and go underneath plant leaves near the ground in search of their prey before flying rapidly to another location before disappearing inside a plant again.

They are easy to identify when the tail is cocked up and they do a standing bounce while perched on a wall or branch.

They will frequently hunt among the plants in the garden. One had a daily circuit that included a thorough search of this tub of flowers very close to the window, occasionally popping up to check around.

They are perhaps easiest to see if a male sits near the top of a bush and pours forth its characteristic complicated song. You may also see them flying rapidly to one of the woodland habitat piles of tangled branches either to hunt for insects or to visit a nest secure within the protecting branches. They can also sometimes be seen following a Blackbird or Thrush that is turning over leaves on the woodland floor. The Wren will pick off any of the tiny prey that are of no interest to the larger bird.


Our woodlands are well used by warblers that spent the winter in warmer climes and move through them on their way to summer nesting sites and then use them again on their return migration before the next winter.

The easily recognisable song of Chiffchaff is often heard during springtime and they, and the very similar Willow Warbler, may also be seen visiting a garden pond for a drink or bath and to catch small insects in the plants around. The photo shows one that stopped at the pond on its way south in late August 2017 and identified by Nigel Duncan from the photo as a Juvenile Willow Warbler.

These warblers will have spent the winter where the climates still have insects to feed on, many going all the way to Sub-Sharan Africa.

Another warbler that can also be a passer-by is the Blackcap, but does occasionally choose to stop in our woodlands and breed there. Hopefully as the shrubby trees planted by P7 pupils in 2015 in Bathing House Wood grow bigger they might encourage more of these warblers to breed in the woods

These Warblers are all primarily insect feeders, though some will also take fruit, particularly in the autumn to fatten up prior to taking the long and arduous migration flights. While our summer Blackcap head south for the winter, one population that spends the summer in Germany and other parts of NW Europe come to the UK to seek warmer weather and have begun to adapt to garden feeders, especially those with fat balls.


One of our most colourful birds, the Bullfinch, can also be seen in some gardens especially if they contain trees that have nutritious flower buds. It is flower buds, especially of fruit trees, that made them very unpopular with fruit farmers in the past and led to many being killed to protect crops. In the early years of my BTO garden bird watch they did not at first feature on the list of birds that I saw, but in the last few years they have become more frequent, perhaps indicating that our woodlands are becoming more suited to their breeding there. It does mean I lose a few flowers of Cherry or Plum, but they never seem to take too many to prevent a reasonable flowering. They do feed mostly on seeds and fruit, but these shy birds do not often come to feeders.

The male is the one you are most likely to see with his bright plumage, but they usually travel in pairs, so if you look closely where the male is you can often see the much duller and well camouflaged female.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Facebook Long Shadow
  • Twitter Long Shadow
bottom of page