Eurasian Red-Backed Shrike I must have been aged 10 at the time, looking down near the blade of the spade I was using, when I spotted a large round object in the soil. It was dirty black, except for a distinctive blue-green patina caused […]
Author of She Wore A Yellow Dress
Eurasian Siskin Male The “siskin” is a genus of small, lively finches named using the old German word “zeischen”, meaning “whistler” or “chirper”, and in parts of the UK the birds have been nicknamed “aberdevines”, possibly to describe our habit of feasting on seed-cones […]
The European goldfinch, a native of Europe, North Africa and western and central Asia, is honored for its bright red face that extends from just behind the eye to the beak. Legend has it that the bird came across a suffering Jesus carrying his cross […]
Which bird is called A Woosell (ouzel) Cocke by William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or as a colly (calling) bird on the Fourth Day of Christmas, or announced in a farewell song published in 1926, or was rumored to die if it ate pomegranates. Today, it is the national bird of Sweden, has as its cousin, the American Robin, and 24 of them feature in a nursery rhyme.
We are members of the Thrush family and love our life in Britain, so much so that 6 million pairs stay close to their breeding grounds nationwide throughout the year, and are joined in winter by fellow blackbirds from elsewhere in Europe. Across Europe, the […]
Which British bird is supposed to have influenced the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and is the name given to Alabama’s state bird?
In Britain, the Eurasian yellowhammer (member of the bunting genus of birds) is famous for its countryside presence, and identified by a distinctive song, as well as the color of its feathers. We are sparrow-sized and males display a brightly-colored yellow head and yellowish underparts, […]
Which British bird was killed and imprisoned in cages due to its habit of attacking the blossom of commercial fruit trees?
We are a small, colorful European bird and member of the finch family, known as the Eurasian bullfinch, about 15cm (six inches) in length, and weigh around one and a half ounces (35 grams). Our name reflects our bull-headed appearance. You will see us in […]
The current global pandemic reminds me of an early birdwatching experience at Spurn Point Bird Observatory in Yorkshire, England where I visited for several days during October 1962. There were no communications with the outside world, and on the day I left the Observatory, I […]
Which species of large Atlantic gull is sometimes nicknamed the “minister” or “coffin-bearer”, presumably because of the color of its plumage?
We great black-backed gulls are the largest gull you will ever see, slow and heavy in flight and often hunched up and threatening on the ground. Expect to see us individually or in small colonies along the northern shorelines of the North Atlantic and adjacent […]
Which British bird Required a UK Law to Stop it Being Eaten as a Countryside Delicacy and its Eggs taken for Cooking?
I am a lapwing, also known as a “peewit” because of my distinctive call. Unfortunately, the lapwing has become a casualty of changing British farming practices that have caused loss of habitat and a reduced food supply due to less rotational farming, new tillage and […]
Which British Bird used to peck the tin foil off milk bottles to get to the cream after they were delivered by the milkman?
I am the blue tit, with the word “tit” derived from the Old Norse word meaning tiny. We are common in Britain and most parts of Europe. Our appearance is as a small, very active and dainty bird (12cm/4.5 inches in length), often hanging upside […]
50 percent of Bird Species are dimorphic (distinct differences in appearance between the sexes); usually it is the male that is better-looking, but there are exceptions.
I am a red-necked phalarope, known as the peerie (small) duck in the Shetland Isles, and a species where the matriarch is the dominant sex. We are a wading and swimming bird, but not a member of the duck family, and rarely are seen in […]
I am a northern fulmar. My name was derived from old Viking language of “ful” meaning foul and “mar” meaning gull. There are around 500,000 northern fulmars that breed in colonies throughout Britain on steep cliffs at places such as St Kilda (Outer Western Isles, […]
Which shorebird nests in some of the remotest parts of the planet and is an occasional vagrant visitor to Britain?
I am a long-billed dowitcher, also known as the red-breasted snipe or brownback. Since most of the world’s estimated 500,000 long-billed dowitchers breed in North America, we prefer to be called shorebirds rather than by the British term wader. In the United States, the word […]
Which half-ounce bird travels the 4100km (2650 miles) twice a year between Britain and the Sahal Region of Africa?
I’m a migrant whitethroat, also known as the nettle-creeper or hay chat in certain parts of Britain. I’m member of the warbler family, about the size of an English robin or great tit, and weigh approximately half an ounce (15 grams), so you can imagine […]
Which British bird-of-prey (raptor) was used to entertain humans in a sport where it had to chase and catch skylarks?
I think we merlins, or pigeon hawk, are delightful to look at as the smallest birds of prey in Britain, even smaller than kestrels. Our name is derived from esmerillon, the old French name for our species. We have pointed wings and a relatively long […]