Wild Bird Identification

British Wild Birds

Wildfowl Birds

The Wildfowl Birds section is broken down into three main categories to help with uk waterfowl identification: Ducks, Geese and Swans. Popular birds that every beginning watcher will find include park lake sightings of ducks which include the Mallard Duck. Popular larger birds found in the park lake or river would include the Canadian Goose or the all white swan with an orange beak known as the Mute Swan.

Barnacle Goose Bird

Barnacle Goose

The Barnacle Goose eats leaves, roots and seeds. Visitor to West Scotland and Ireland. Some breed in Greenland. Does not breed in Britain. With a white face, a black head and neck, their back and wings are greyish with white and black edged bars, a grey-white underside and black feet. Juveniles are duller. The young can fly within a few weeks of hatching yet they stay within the family unit over the winter. Includes Barnacle Goose bird call.

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Bean Goose Bird

Bean Goose

The Bean Goose eats grass, cereals and other crops Very uncommon visitor to Britain. They breed in Scandinavia and Russia. Rarely seen in British Isles. A few hundred may visit in a year. They have a yellow bill and dark brown plumage white lighter brown-white tipped wings and a lighter brown underside. A clutch typically has 4-6 eggs which hatch in four weeks. Once hatched they fly after 6-7 weeks. Includes Bean Goose bird call.

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Bewick's Swan Bird

Bewick's Swan

Like many swans these birds will dive head first into the bed of the water to feed on vegetation. Mainly passes through Ireland but also a few parts of England. They breed in locations such as Arctic Siberia. Winter visitor that doesn't breed in the UK. Similar in plumage to the Whooper Swan it is white with a black tipped yellow beak but is smaller than the Whooper. Each bird has a distinctive pattern on it's bill allowing you to recognize it in successive years. Includes Bewick's Swan bird call.

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Brent Goose Bird

Brent Goose

The Brent Goose eats eel grass and seaweed whilst in the water. Visitors to mainly Irish coastline and coast of south east England. They breed in Arctic Russia, Spitzbergen, Greenland and more. They breed outside the UK. They are black and grey with a distinctive white mark on their neck. A greyish-black back and white-grey underside. A juvenile has white colouring to the edge of it's wings instead of the white patch on the neck. They lay 3-5 eggs which hatch within three and a half weeks. Once hatched the young must be prepared to fly south in three months. Includes Brent Goose bird call.

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Canada Goose Bird

Canada Goose

The Canada Goose eats roots, grass, leaves and seeds. Visible mainly throughout England and Wales. Nests are made of down, grass and leaves. Present all year. This bird has a long back neck and face with a white coloured patch. The body is brownish with white lines in the wings with a small white section in the breast area. Juveniles are duller. The female lays 5-6 eggs. They can fly after nines weeks but stay together until the following spring. Includes Canada Goose bird call.

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Eider Bird


The Eider will eat Molluscs off rocks and inlets. Present all year on shores of Scotland. They nest off rocky or sandy shores. Visitors mainly come to the east and south coast of England. Male has black cap, the nape of the neck is a green colour with a pinkish-white chest and white back. The underside, out wings and tail are black. Female are mainly brown with grey and black outer wings. Three to ten eggs are produced per year which the female incubates for about a month. The young are independent after 9-11 weeks. Includes Eider bird call.

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Gadwall Bird


The Gadwall eats stems, leaves and seeds. Initially the young chicks will eat insects, snails and worms. Visible mainly across England but also some patches of Scotland and Ireland. Hidden in thick vegetation the nest is made of grass and/or leaves and lined with down off the ducks breast. Present all year. A grey bird with white wing patches with some chestnut brown also. The female is similar but with a light brown body. The young chicks look similar to mallard chicks. The eggs are incubated for one month. Once hatch the young keep moving to fend of any potential predators. Includes Gadwall bird call.

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Garganey Bird


The Garganey eats insects, flies, water beetle, midges and more. Mainly located in England. They sometime nest outside of the UK. Visitor to Britain. The male has a distinctive white stripe across the eye, a dark brown forehead and chestnut-brown face. The next is a light brown with darker brown spots and the wings are blue on the shoulder and green in parts at the back. The female is lighter brown with more brown specks on the body. Eight or nine eggs are laid which hatch in around 3 weeks. They can fly in five to six weeks. Includes Garganey bird call.

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Goldeneye Bird


The Goldeneye eats mussels, small fish and plants Visible in winter across most of Britain. The nest is insulated with down and feathers. Majority of population are visitors. Some nesting in Scotland. The body of the Goldeneye is white with black outer wings, a blueish-grey back and a glossy green head with a high forehead. Females are similar in plumage but have a brown back and head. Six to twelve eggs are laid. Includes Goldeneye bird call.

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Goosander Bird


The Goosander eats mainly fish. Mainly permanent in northern England and Scotland. They nest mainly made of leaves is usually in holes in trees or rock crevices. Present all year in England and Scotland visitors frequent more southern England. The male has a glossy green head and orange long narrow bill with a white underside and black black. It has grey outer wings and tail. The female has a brown head and much greyer body. The male is similar to female in winter plumage. The male takes little to no part in the raising of the young. The female will incubate up to fifteen eggs. The young can take 8 - 10 weeks to fly yet are encouraged to leave the nest in just a few days typically having to make a small drop from the nest to the water. Includes Goosander bird call.

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Greylag Goose Bird

Greylag Goose

The Greylag Goose eats grass, roots and over-spilled grain. Visible mainly across England and Scotland. Nests are built of heather, grass or moss. Present all year. They have a greyish-brown plumage, an orange bill and sturdy pink legs. The juvenile is similar butter of duller colour. Greylags, who mate for life, incubate their young for about a month which then take to water within hours of hatching. They fly within two months. Includes Greylag Goose bird call.

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Long Tailed Duck Bird

Long Tailed Duck

The Long Tailed Duck eats mussels, cockles, clams and small fish. Mainly found in coastal Scotland or Eastern England. Near to water the nest is usually made up of plants and down among think vegetation. Rare breeds in the UK. Coastal visitors. The male has a light brown upper and darker brown lower eye patch. The rest of the head, neck and body is white with a brown chest. The wings are grey. The female is similar. In winter the male's body is much browner and the eye patch is white. Males have a long tail all year. Six to Nine eggs are incubated for about 3 weeks. The young are independent after five weeks. Includes Long Tailed Duck bird call.

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Mallard Bird


Mallards eat seeds, acorns and berries, plants and insects. Commonplace across the whole of the UK and Ireland. Nests are made of leaves and grass and lined with down. A common site in Britain with many visitors boosting the numbers from west Europe of the winter months. The male has a green head, maroon breast and grey body as breeding plumage it look similar to the female out of season yet still with maroon chest it is light and dark brown in patches. They often nest up high near the waterside then newly hatched chicks can drop down into the water. Includes Mallard bird call.

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Mute Swan Bird

Mute Swan

The Mute Swan eats aquatic vegetation. Visible all across the UK except the very tip of Northern Scotland. The nest is made of a large mound of water plants. Seen in most lakes and rivers. A white bird with a long curved neck and an orange bill with a large rounded black knob at the top. The young are a grey-brown color. Four to seven eggs are laid which are incubated for around 34-38 days. Once hatched they will take up to four and a half months to be able to fly. Includes Mute Swan bird call.

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Pink Footed Goose Bird

Pink Footed Goose

The Pink Footed Goose eats grain, winter cereals and grass. Visitors to Northern England and South-Mid Scotland. The nest is a mound of vegetation lined with down. Many thousands of visitors frequent some parts of Britain from Iceland. As the name suggests they have prominent 'pink feet' with a grey back with white lines throughout and a brown head and underside. A juvenile is slightly duller with a pinkish-brown underside and more yellowy feet. Three to five eggs are laid in a clutch which are incubated for a month by the female. Once hatched the young will fly within eight weeks but will stay until the following summer. Includes Pink Footed Goose bird call.

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Pintail Bird


The Pintail eats various plants and invertebrates. A common visiting bird to most of Britain. They breed abroad. Rare as a breeding bird. Most are only in the UK in winter. The pintail has a chocolate-brown head and white underside, a grey back, brown-white feathers and a long brown tail. Females have a sandy brown head and neck with specked brown body and wings. The female incubates the 7-8 eggs with he camouflaged plumage. The young fly within seven weeks. Includes Pintail bird call.

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Pochard Bird


The Pochard eats leaves, insects, crustaceans, worms and more. Located across Britain. The nest is a cup lined with reeds and leaves. Present all year along with visitors in winter. The male has a brick-red head, black-grey breast and back with light grey wings. Female is much browner with similar grey wings. There is between six and twelve eggs per clutch. Includes Pochard bird call.

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Red Breasted Merganser Bird

Red Breasted Merganser

The Red Breasted Merganser eats various fish. Visible across most of Ireland and Scotland. The nests are built near lakes or rivers. Present all year in the north of Britain. Visitors to coastal parts of England in the winter. The male has a glossy green head with a double crest, a red-brown breast, a whit-grey underside, dark grey outer wings and white inner wingspan. Female plumage is similar but with a brown head and a shorter crest. Winter male plumage is similar to female in the wintertime. Young are dark coloured on the body and head with a white underside. The head also has chestnut-brown cheeks and white eye patch. The female alone rears the young. Includes Red Breasted Merganser bird call.

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Scaup Bird


The Scaup eats molluscs, insects and worms. Visitor to coastal parts of Britain. They rarely breed in Britain but any nest is protected by law. Rare breeders on British soil. Male has a black head with a greenish tinge and a black chest. Their back is a light grey with a white underside and the wings are blueish-grey and white. The female is predominantly brown in colour. Usually 6-12 eggs are laid which take three to four weeks to hatch. Then chicks become independent in about six weeks. Includes Scaup bird call.

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Shelduck Bird


The Shelduck eats fish, small shellfish, insects and aquatic snails. Visible in coastal locations throughout britain. The female builds the nest of grass and down and her own feathers. Present all year with visitors increasing the numbers further inland. The breeding plumage includes a bright red bill with round knob on the top, a dark green head, underside and parts of the back, with a thick brown ring across the middle of the body and a mixture of the above said colours in the wings. The female lacks the round knob. The young have white plumage with brown stripes. Ducklings hatch in about one month and can dive straight away if threatened. They have their independence in around two months. Includes Shelduck bird call.

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Shoveler Bird


The Shoveler eats small insects and plant matter sifted from the water using their unique shovel bills. Visible in most of the UK. A hollow in the ground lined with feathers or grass usually close to water. Common all year with numbers boosted with winter visitors. The male with it's distinctive 'Shoveler' bill it has a green head, white body, chestnut underside and wings of grey, green and light blue colour variations. The female has a brown head and body with darker brown specks on top and underneath. Yet in 'eclipse' plumage the male is similar to the female but is more chestnut lighter brown underneath and darker on the back. There are seven to fourteen eggs in a clutch which are led away from the nest as soon as they have hatched and dried. After six or seven weeks the young are able to fly. Includes Shoveler bird call.

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Teal Bird


The Teal will eat seeds and small invertebrates. Located across Britain with additional visitors in some areas. Teals are secretive about nesting sites to the point where the male will have very little idea of it's location. Present all year. In breeding the male Teal has a distinctive green eye patch and chestnut brown head with grey bill. The underside of the body is white with a sandy-grey chest with brown spots. They also have a yellow tail. The female has a sandy-brown head and has green on the back of her wings. Winter plumage for both male and female is Tortoise shell like with various shades of brown. Built in thick cover the female solely looks after the clutch and ducklings are rarely in the open water. Includes Teal bird call.

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Tufted Duck Bird

Tufted Duck

The Tufted Duck eats insects, small frogs and spawn. Located across the whole of the UK. The nest is made of vegetation and located near to the waters edge. Present all year along with visitors in the winter. The male has a glossy purple head and chest with purple-brown wings and a white underside. The female is similar but brown replaces the purple in comparison to the male. Ducklings take to water within hours of hatching. Includes Tufted Duck bird call.

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White Fronted Goose Bird

White Fronted Goose

The White Fronted Goose eats plant shoots and grain. Visitor to only certain locations within Britain. They breed in Russia, Scandinavia and Asia. The nest is made on the ground of grass and down. They pass through the UK from Greenland and Siberia. They have a white forehead and brown-black underparts with large orange feet. The young hatch after four weeks and they fledge in 5-6 weeks. Includes White Fronted Goose bird call.

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Whooper Swan Bird

Whooper Swan

The Whooper Swan will eat underwater plants and insects and forage on stubble fields. Visitors to Britain except for Wales and mid-southern England. The nest is made of a pile of reeds and sedges near the bank of a water source. Rare breeders. Found to graze in fields. Sometimes breed in Scotland. The adult has generally a white coloured plumage that tends to be tinged slightly by feeding in the waters. They have a yellow bill with a black tip. Juveniles have an all over brownish tinge to their plumage. The female will lay 3-5 eggs which see will incubate for four to five weeks. Once hatched the young will fly in around 8 weeks. Includes Whooper Swan bird call.

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Wigeon Bird


The Wigeon eats grass and plants from mud flats. Located throughout Britain. The nest is built of grass and leaves near tussocks or shrubs. Present all year. Numbers greatly boosted with winter visitors. The face is chestnut brown with a creamy coloured patch on the cheek and a grey body, dark grey on the outer wing and green and white on the inner. Females have a brown head and body with dark and light grey wings. Seven to Nine eggs are laid which typically hatch in three to three and a half weeks. Includes Wigeon bird call.

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