With over 260 different types of birds in the UK, it can almost be impossible to identify every single species. There are still a fair few contenders to sift through when it comes to birds with red heads or red patches on their heads.
Luckily, we've put together this article with all the birds that may help you with your identification.
The birds below are the most likely birds to see in the UK that have red heads, as they are generally quite common. However, it can vary slightly depending on your location.
Close up of a Goldfinch
Adult and Juvenile Goldfinch
European goldfinch, feeding on the seeds of thistles
Perched Goldfinch calling before taking off
Typical habitats for Goldfinches include woodland, parks, gardens, scrubland and farmland
Goldfinches have a stable population in the UK
European Goldfinch perched on a branch
12cm to 14cm
21cm to 25.5cm
14g to 19g
Alexander Henderson, XC468562. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/468562.
There is a large population of goldfinches in the UK, and they can be seen everywhere in the country - although they are more popular in Southern England. These birds will usually be around scattered bushes and trees, thistles and any rough ground.
Great Spotted Woodpecker in-flight through the forest
Great Spotted Woodpecker calling from the top of a tree stump
Great Spotted Woodpecker female feeding its young
Great Spotted Woodpecker clambering on a tree trunk
Great Spotted Woodpecker drinking from a watering hole in the forest
Great Spotted Woodpecker male at the nest with its young
Great Spotted Woodpecker resting on top of the stump of a tree
Great Spotted Woodpecker in-flight
20cm to 24cm
34cm to 39cm
68g to 93g
These woodpeckers are usually found in woodland, parks and large gardens. They like more mature, broad trees and conifers. They are much more common in England and Wales but can be seen throughout the country.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers are rather fond of peanut feeders and bird tables too.
European Green Woodpecker perched on a branch
European Green Woodpecker looking out of the nest in a tree
European Green Woodpecker digging in ants nest
European Green Woodpecker in flight
Close up of a European Green Woodpecker
30cm to 34cm
40cm to 42cm
180g to 220g
European Green Woodpecker Call
Mathias Götz, XC665473. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/665473.
These are the largest breeding woodpeckers in the UK, and you can usually see them on garden lawns and in parks. This is because they spend most of their time feeding on the ground, particularly hunting for ants.
Green Woodpeckers can generally be seen throughout the country but are absent from the far north and west and Ireland.
Male Lesser Redpoll in breeding plumage
Female Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll in nonbreeding plumage
Lesser Redpoll on a garden feeder - they are one of the smallest birds you'll see coming to feeders
Lesser Redpoll taking off for flight
Lesser Redpolls are commonly spotted in both deciduous and coniferous woodlands
Close up of a Lesser Redpoll on the ground, foraging for food
Lesser Redpoll eating nyjer seed from a bird feeder
Lesser Redpoll on the ground, looking for food
Lesser Redpoll on a perch with a seed in beak
Close up of a Lesser Redpoll
11.5cm to 12.5cm
20cm to 22.5cm
9g to 12g
Lesser Redpoll Call/Song
Marcin Dyduch, XC620926. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/620926.
You'd assume that the common redpoll would be more common than the lesser redpoll, but the lesser is much more abundant in the UK. These tiny finches were recently split into their own species from the common redpoll. They are only slightly bigger than a blue tit and can mainly be seen in woodland and gardens.
The lesser redpoll has a breeding population across Scotland, northern and eastern England and Wales. You're a lot less likely to see these birds in other parts of England, but sightings can happen during the winter months.
Female linnet (left) and male linnet (right)
Common Linnet close up (male)
Linnets in flight
Linnet nest with chicks
21cm to 25.5cm
15g to 22g
Frank Lambert, XC623620. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/623620.
Once a popular caged bird, these small, slender finches are residents over most of the UK and have a well-established population. Male linnets have reddish breasts and foreheads, with females being much browner all over.
Large numbers of these birds can usually be seen along the coast from Kent all the way up to Aberdeenshire. Usually, they can be found on parks, gardens, saltmarshes, farmland hedges and rough ground.
Female and Male Common Pheasant
Male Common Pheasant
Common Pheasant with spread wings
53cm to 89cm
70cm to 90cm
1000g to 1.7kg
Nikolay Sariev, XC627528. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/627528.
These large, vocal gamebirds can be seen almost everywhere across the country. Male pheasants are the more colourful out of the sexes, and they have dark green heads with red face markings.
Close up of a European Robin
Close up of a perched Robin
Robin with a beak full of Mayflies, ready to feed the hungry chicks in the nest
Close up of a Robin in flight
Robin Redbreasts are extremely fond of mealworms
Robin taking a drink of water
Robin standing on a branch next to a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Close up of a Robins nest with unhatched eggs inside
Familiar sight of a Robin in a garden, perched on a watering can
Robin taking a bath in a bird bath
20cm to 22cm
14g to 25g
Frank Lambert, XC414220. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/414220.
One of the UK's favourite birds, the robin has a distinctive red breast and can be seen all year round all over the country. Male and female robins look exactly the same, with juveniles having no red breasts; instead, it's a golden brown colour with spots.
House Swallow perching on top of a sawn-off branch
House Sparrow perching on a small rock
Barn Swallow perching on a branch twittering
Barn Swallow feeding on a hover fly
Barn Swallow in-flight over natural habitat
Barn Swallow perching on a cattail in the marshes
Barn Swallow collecting materials for nest building
Two Barn Swallows in conflict
Barn Swallow in-flight
17cm to 19cm
32cm to 35cm
16g to 24g
These small birds have reddish throats, glossy blue backs and distinctive long tail streamers. They arrive in the UK for summer and can be seen most of the time performing superb displays in the air. When winter comes, swallows migrate south.
The re headed birds below are fairly rare and much less common in the UK. However, it can vary slightly depending on your location.
Male (left) and female (right) Common Redpolls
Common Redpoll feeding on the ground
Common Redpoll calling out
Common Redpoll eating cone seeds from a fir tree
Common Redpoll during the winter
Common Redpoll perching on a branch
Common Redpoll in-flight
Common Redpoll sitting on its nest
Common Redpoll perching on a branch
Flock of Common Redpolls in-flight
12cm to 14cm
20cm to 25cm
12g to 16g
Don't let the name fool you, as the Common Redpoll isn't actually that common at all here in the UK. With an estimated UK breeding of between 1-4 birds and 300 wintering, you'll have to be extremely lucky to see one of these.
In winter, you're most likely to see these birds on the east coast.
Crane with spread wings
A pair of Cranes
Crane in flight
Adult Crane with young
Cranes doing the mating dance
110cm to 120cm
220cm to 245cm
40g to 70g
Common Crane Call
Lars Edenius, XC648674. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/648674.
These large, pleasant birds have a small breeding population in Norfolk and a re-introduced population in Somerset. In spring and autumn, small numbers can be found passing through Britain.
Cranes are predominately grey but have dark necks, with patches of white and a red mark.
Close up of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in flight
Female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Portrait of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker hanging on a branch
Female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at nest hole with young
14cm to 15cm
25cm to 27cm
17g to 25g
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Song / Call
Paul Bourdin, XC661214. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/661214.
Unlike the great spotted and green woodpeckers, these small resident woodpeckers are a lot less common. Males are the only sex to have a vibrant red crown.
These woodpeckers are generally much quieter with their tapping and will nest and feed higher up.
Little Grebe swimming with young
Little Grebe family
Little Grebe swimming
Little Grebe with chick calling for food
Little Grebe swimming near the edge of a river
Little Grebe gliding along on the water
Little Grebe flapping its wings
Little Grebe parent at nest with hungry chicks
Little Grebe swimming in lake
Little Grebe taking off from water
25cm to 29cm
40cm to 45cm
100g to 140g
In the summer months, the little grebe has bright reddish cheeks and throat. They are small and rather plump looking and can sometimes appear to have a fluffy rear end.
These birds can be seen in most parts of the UK, but not usually in upland areas.
Flock of Pochards
Male Pochard landing on water
During the spring and winter months, it's quite straightforward to distinguish male pochards. Their heads are a reddish-brown colour, with dark breasts and light bodies. Female pochards are often mistaken with other species, as they are mostly brown with grey bodies and pale cheeks.
However, when pochards grow new feathers, males and females do look extremely similar.
40cm to 46cm
77cm to 85cm
700g to 900g
Red Grebes are rare in the UK, with less than 20 of these birds spending the summer here. During winter, the number of these birds increases slightly, but usually not by many.
In summer, these birds have red necks and chests.
53cm to 57cm
85cm to 80cm
900g to 1.4kg
Males have orange-brown heads, with pale flanks and red beaks. Females have pale cheeks and are brown all over.
Spain has a substantial population of red-crested pochards, but closer to the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany all have small but good populations of these birds.
This is where sometimes the occasional bird will come over to the UK. All of the breeding birds in the UK are said to come from escaped birds.
Waxwing feeding on berries
Close up of a Waxwing
Pair of feeding Waxwings
32cm to 35cm
45g to 70g
A group of four Waxwings calling
Peter Stronach, XC625925. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/625925.
Waxwings are winter visitors to the UK and are slightly smaller than starlings in size. They don't breed in the UK but can be seen in large numbers during some winters.
They have a very distinctive crest, with reddish-brown bodies and black throats. They have a yellow tip on their tails, white and yellow on the wings and small black masks around their eyes.
The most common bird you'll see in the UK with a red head, will probably be either a Robin or Goldfinch. This is because out of the red-headed birds they are by far the most popular and are much more likely to visit your garden than most of the others.
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