Popular spring birds to keep an eye out for

These beautiful birds will soon be arriving to the UK.
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Popular spring birds to keep an eye out for

Spring is a wonderful time of year for countless reasons, with one being the arrival of migrating birds to our countryside, towns and cities. Here are the ones to look out for:

The Cuckoo

 Spring birds: A Cuckoo sitting on a branch.

Mid April is the time to expect the arrival of the Cuckoo. And you will probably hear your first before seeing it. Cuckoos can be spotted in a variety of different habitats. They are famous for laying their eggs in a host nest, or in other words a different bird’s nest, where it is then raised by an unsuspecting parent. Cuckoo chicks even remove other eggs and offspring from the nest, acting purely on instinct. Reedbeds in England are one of the best places to both hear and see Cuckoo’s whilst they are here. And if you’re in Scotland or Wales they are likely to be spotted in uplands, moorlands and meadows.

The Wheateater

One of the first spring birds to arrive, wheateaters are seen as early as late February. However, the majority arrive during April. The male wheateater is a beautiful mix of peach, blue/grey, black and white. The females are a sandy colour and lack the distinctive black mask.

Coastal grasslands are the best place to spot these birds, but they can pop up almost anywhere during their migration to the UK. Wheateaters will nest here in the UK, often in old rabbit burrows on uplands.

The Nightingale

Springs Birds - A Nightingale sitting on a branch

Arguably one of the most beautiful of any of the spring birds to arrive, the Nightingale’s song can be heard from mid April, usually at dawn and dusk.

These light brown birds are found in the south of England and they won’t venture too far north.

The Swallow

A swallow perched on a branch.

Early to mid-April is the best time to see swallows in the UK, with large numbers of them feeding over lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs. Swallows arrive in number on the south coast, with many of them following the coast north.

Swallows are extremely agile and spend the majority of their time flying. You’ll know it’s a swallow by looking out for their dark, glossy-blue back, red throats, pale undercarriage and long tail streamers.

The Swift

Spring birds - a swift flying in the air

Swifts are one of the last migrating birds to arrive and don’t hang around for too long. Arriving in early May, swifts soon leave come July/August after breeding swiftly. You’ll see them over our towns and cities, feeding on the wing. Swifts are majestic in the air and only land to look after eggs or to feed their young. Amazingly, swifts can sleep whilst flying. To do this switch off one side of their brain, using the other to maintain flight and avoiding crashing.

Many of us struggle to tell the difference between swifts and swallows, not surprising considering how fast they glide through the air. The easiest way to tell them apart is to look at the colour of their belly. Swifts have a dark belly, and swallows have a white/light below.

The Warblers

A warbler bird sitting in the reeds

Most warblers are migrants to the UK, arriving in spring to breed throughout the summer, however a couple of them remain throughout the year. According to the RSPB, warblers can be separated into several groups.

“Leaf warblers (slender, greenish birds of woodland and scrub, with simple soft call notes), reed, bush and grasshopper warblers (browner birds that live in wet places) and the Old World warblers (generally more patterned birds of woods and bushy places with short, hard call notes)” – RSPB

Learn more about these spring birds here.

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