Resident birds: which birds do not migrate?
What exactly is a resident bird? Which native species are considered resident birds in the UK, and what do they eat in winter? Find out here!
Not all bird species flock to warm, southerly regions in winter. Even in the coldest years, you can still spot many native bird species in your garden and in the country. However, the diversity of wild birds does seem to decline in winter, and many species are not seen or heard again until spring.
Here is what you need to know about the bird species native to the UK that brave the cold winter, and what you can do to support them in your garden.
What are resident birds?
The term “resident birds” is used to describe species of birds that spend the whole year in their breeding grounds. Unlike migratory birds, they do not fly south, but tend to remain near their summer breeding grounds, searching for food in the barren landscape. These bird species tend to feed, at least partially, on plant food. Insectivores, meanwhile, are normally migratory, as there is an insufficient supply of food for them in winter.
List of native resident bird species
Calling a bird “resident” or “migratory” can be a matter of perspective. Bird species deemed resident in central and southern Europe might be considered migratory in northern Europe, because they move north in the colder, winter months. Similarly, some birds in the UK are winter visitors, migrating here from more northerly regions in winter. As such, it can be difficult to distinguish a migratory bird from a resident bird.
Here are just some of the resident birds in the UK:
What do resident birds eat in winter?
As mentioned above, resident birds tend not to rely on insects for food, and can eat nuts, berries and seeds. So it will come as no surprise that, in winter, you can often spot resident birds foraging in trees, fields or short vegetation.
Fact: The kestrel is one resident bird that cannot be enticed with bird food in winter. It feeds exclusively on animal food, and finds its prey, mainly field mice, even under the cover of snow.
Not all birds in the UK over winter are resident. Some have left their breeding grounds and flown short distances to warmer regions without leaving their latitude. These species are called migratory birds.