Birds

There are about 10,000 species of birds worldwide in 28 orders and about 170 families. They evolved from reptiles and developed feathers and the ability to fly. They have colonised every continent and taken on a vast range of forms and sizes, from tiny hummingbirds to huge ostriches. Birds are mostly predators of invertebrates, though some (e.g. mallard and teal) are largely vegetarian. Black grouse chicks feed on invertebrates during their first four to five weeks and switch to a predominantly vegetable diet thereafter, as do many finches. At the top of the predatory pyramid are eagles, sparrowhawks and merlins that specialise in hunting live bird or mammal prey.

According to the British Trust for Ornithology there were 224 breeding species recorded in Britain in 2013, with many more migrants and vagrants.

Birds at Dundreggan

Key bird species on the Conservation Estate include a healthy black grouse population, regularly breeding red- and black-throated divers and a couple of less common woodland birds – redstart and wood warbler. The lack of sufficient live prey may explain why golden eagles do not regularly breed at Dundreggan. Otherwise, the bird fauna of Dundreggan is fairly typical of the West/Central Highlands. As re-wilding progresses we may see an improvement in conditions for birds like black grouse and woodland warblers, amongst other species.

 

Total species recorded on Dundreggan: 95

 

* = Trees for Life Species Profile 


Order: Accipitriformes

This order was included in the Falconiformes (Falcons) but is now usually a separate order. It comprises the large birds of prey including eagles, vultures, hawks, ospreys and similar species.

 

Aquila chrysaetos

Accipitridae (Hawks, vultures and eagles)

These are large birds with broad wings which tend to soar. They feed on carrion or live animals on the ground.

Common Name

Sparrowhawk

Golden eagle*

Buzzard

Scientific Name

Accipiter nisus

Aquila chrysaetos

Buteo buteo

 

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Pandion haliaetus

Pandionidae (Ospreys)

This family has only two species, of which only one is found in Europe. They are sometimes called fish eagles as they feed by swooping down and catching their prey as it swims near the water's surface.

Common Name

Osprey*

Scientific Name

Pandion haliaetus

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Order: Anseriformes (Waterfowl)

This order contains about 150 species worldwide in three families. They are all adapted for life on water and have webbed feet for efficient swimming, although some have become mainly terrestrial.

Bucephala clangula

Anatidae (Swans, ducks and geese)

This is the major family in the Anseriformes with about 140 species. They tend to have broad, flattened beaks and long necks. Special oils in their feathers make them waterproof.

Common Name

Teal

Wigeon

Mallard

Greylag goose

Tufted duck

Goldeneye

Whooper swan

Common scoter

Goosander

Red-breasted merganser

Scientific Name

Anas crecca

Anas penelope

Anas platyrhynchos

Anser anser

Aythya fuligula

Bucephala clangula

Cygnus cygnus

Melanitta nigra

Mergus merganser

Mergus serrator

 

 

 

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Order: Apodiformes (Swifts and hummingbirds)

This order of small birds contains three families worldwide which are characterised by having short, weak legs which have little use other than for perching.

Apus apus

Apodidae (Swifts)

This is the only Apodiformes family found in Europe. They spend most of their time on the wing and are among the fastest flying of all birds.

Common Name

Common swift

Scientific Name

Apus apus

 

 

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Order: Charadriiformes (Waders, gulls and auks)

This is a large order containing about 350 species across the world. Most of them live near water and feed on invertebrates and other small animals.

 

Vanellus vanellus

Charadriidae (Plovers and lapwings)

This family of waders have compact bodies, short tails and short, straight bills. They can form large flocks during the winter.

Common Name

Golden plover

Lapwing

Scientific Name

Pluvialis apricaria

Vanellus vanellus

 

 


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Haematopus ostralegus

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

This family has one member in Europe which has a distinct black and white appearance with a long red bill, which it uses to feed on shellfish.

Common Name

Oystercatcher

Scientific Name

Haematopus ostralegus

 

 

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Larus canus

Laridae (Gulls)

The gulls are medium to large carnivorous birds which are usually white or grey with black markings on the head or wings. Most are coastal or inland ground nesting species.

Common Name

Common gull

Scientific Name

Larus canus

 

 

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Numenius arquata

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and allies)

This family of wading birds has considerable variation in size and shape but tend to have longer, thinner bills than the Charadriidae. They generally have dull plumage.

Common Name

Common sandpiper

Dunlin

Snipe

Curlew

Woodcock

Greenshank

Scientific Name

Actitis hypoleucos

Calidris alpina

Gallinago gallinago

Numenius arquata

Scolopax rusticola

Tringa nebularia

 

 

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Order: Columbiformes (Pigeons and doves)

This order contains a single living family, Columbidae, as well as the extinct family of the dodo.

Streptopelia decaocto

Columbidae (Pigeons and doves)

These are medium-sized, stout birds with relatively short bills and legs. They feed on seeds, fruits and plants. There is no scientific difference between pigeons and doves.

Common Name

Wood pigeon

Collared dove

Scientific Name

Columba palumbus

Streptopelia decaocto

 

 

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Order: Coraciiformes (Kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters and allies)

This is a diverse order of mostly tropical birds. They are usually brightly coloured.

Alcedo atthis

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

This is by far the largest family in the Coraciiformes but there is only one species found in the British Isles.

Common Name

Kingfisher

Scientific Name

Alcedo atthis

 

 

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Order: Cuculiformes

This order contains nearly 150 species which are mainly found outside Europe. Many of the species are nest parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds.

Cuculus canorus

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

There is only one member of this family native to the British Isles. Its distinctive call, from where it gets its common name, is a familiar sound of spring.

Common Name

Cuckoo

Scientific Name

Cuculus canorus

 

 

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Order: Falconiformes (Falcons and allies)

The Falconiformes are the diurnal birds of prey. Some classifications put the Accipitriformes (hawks, vultures, ospreys and eagles) in the same order but many now separate them, leaving only a single family in this order.

Falco columbarius

Falconidae (Falcons and allies)

These are small to medium-sized raptors with quick, agile flight, which tend to take their prey in the air.

Common Name

Merlin

Kestrel

Scientific Name

Falco columbarius

Falco tinnunculus

 

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Order: Galliformes (Game fowl)

The Galliformes are heavy-bodied ground feeding birds. Many species are hunted such as pheasant and grouse, as well as turkeys and chickens.

 

Phasianus colchicus

Phasianidae (Partridges, quails, pheasants and allies)

These are medium-sized to large birds which can run very fast and tend to fly only when necessary.

Common Name

Red-legged partridge

Pheasant

Scientific Name

Alectoris rufa

Phasianus colchicus

 

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Tetrao tetrix

Tetraonidae (Grouse)

The Tetraonidae are birds of northern latitudes and favour mountains, tundra and boreal forest. They have very dense plumage and feathered legs to help them withstand the cold winters.

Common Name

Red grouse

Ptarmigan

Black grouse*

Scientific Name

Lagopus lagopus scoticus

Lagopus mutus

Tetrao tetrix

 

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Order: Gaviiformes (Divers)

This order has only one family with five members worldwide: four in Europe and three in the British Isles. They are all found in northern latitudes, although some migrate south.

Gavia arctica

Gaviidae (Divers)

Divers, sometimes known as loons, are excellent swimmers and can dive for up to 90 seconds searching for food, which is mainly fish.

Common Name

Black-throated diver

Red-throated diver

Scientific Name

Gavia arctica

Gavia stellata

 

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Order: Gruiformes (Cranes, rails and allies)

This large and diverse group contains many different families and is regularly revised.

Rallus aquaticus

Rallidae (Rails)

There is only one British representative of this family. They are secretive birds which feed in long vegetation at the water's edge.

Common Name

Water rail

Scientific Name

Rallus aquaticus

 

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Order: Passeriformes (Perching birds)

This order comprises over half of all bird species with over 5,000 members in more than 110 families worldwide. They are characterised by the arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one backwards) which allows them to perch. They are sometimes also falsely known as songbirds.

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Aegithalos caudatus

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed tits)

This is a small family with only one British representative, characterised by their very long tails. They are closely related to the Paridae (true tits). They are highly social and the young stay to help their parents rear the next generation.

Common Name

Long-tailed tit

Scientific Name

Aegithalos caudatus

 

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Alauda arvensis

Alaudidae (Larks)

Larks are brown, sparrow-sized birds of open land. They are mostly seed eaters but will also feed on insects.

Common Name

Skylark

Scientific Name

Alauda arvensis

 

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Bombycilla garrulus

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

There are two species of waxwing, although only one is a common winter visitor to Britain, sometimes in large numbers, to feed on seeds and berries

Common Name

Waxwing

Scientific Name

Bombycilla garrulus

 

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Certhia familiaris

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

There is only one species found in Britain. They are small, inconspicuous brown and white birds which use their curved, pointed bills to extract insects hidden in the bark of trees.

Common Name

Treecreeper

Scientific Name

Certhia familiaris

 

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Cinclus cinclus

Cinclidae (Dippers)

Cinclidae are a small family of aquatic birds with only one European member. They feed by walking underwater in streams and eating the invertebrates they find under or on rocks.

Common Name

Dipper

Scientific Name

Cinclus cinclus

 

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Garrulus glandarius

Corvidae (Crows and allies)

These are large, heavily-built birds with strong bills. They are omnivorous and will take the eggs and young of other birds. The corvids are generally considered to be amongst the most intelligent of birds.

Common Name

Raven

Hooded crow

Carrion crow

Jay

Scientific Name

Corvus corax

Corvus cornix

Corvus corone

Garrulus glandarius

 

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Plectrophenax nivalis

Emberizidae (Buntings)

Buntings are stocky sparrow-sized birds with thick bills used for breaking seeds which form the majority of their diet, although they will also eat insects. They are mainly ground-dwelling.

Common Name

Yellowhammer

Reed bunting

Snow bunting

Scientific Name

Emberiza citrinella

Emberiza schoeniclus

Plectrophenax nivalis

 

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Fringilla coelebs

Fringillidae (Finches)

The finches are generally small passerines with narrow, notched tails. Each species has a different size and shaped bill adapted to the particular seed it feeds on.

Common Name

Lesser redpoll

Greenfinch

Twite

Siskin

Chaffinch*

Brambling

Crossbill

Bullfinch

Scientific Name

Carduelis cabaret

Carduelis chloris

Carduelis flavirostris

Carduelis spinus

Fringilla coelebs

Fringilla montifringilla

Loxia curvirostra

Pyrrhula pyrrhula

 

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Delichon urbica

Hirundinidae (Swallows and martins)

These are very agile flyers well adapted for catching insects in the air. They are all migratory and their arrival in this country signals the start of spring.

Common Name

House martin

Swallow

Sand martin

Scientific Name

Delichon urbica

Hirundo rustica

Riparia riparia

 

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Anthus pratensis

Motacillidae (Pipits and wagtails)

These are small, slender birds with long legs which live mostly on the ground in open country and feed on insects. The pipits have brown, mottled plumage, whereas the wagtails are more colourful.

Common Name

Meadow pipit

Tree pipit

Pied wagtail

Grey wagtail

Scientific Name

Anthus pratensis

Anthus trivialis

Motacilla alba yarrellii

Motacilla cinerea

 

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Muscicapa striata

Muscicapidae (Flycatchers)

There are two species found in Britain. Flycatchers perch on a branch then dart out to catch insects in the air. They have a relatively broad, flat bill surrounded by bristles, which helps catch their prey.

Common Name

Spotted flycatcher

Scientific Name

Muscicapa striata

 

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Lophophanes cristatus

Paridae (Tits)

Tits are small and very agile birds that feed on insects in trees, often hanging upside down to do so.

Common Name

Blue tit

Crested tit*

Great tit

Coal tit

Scientific Name

Cyanistes caeruleus

Lophophanes cristatus

Parus major

Periparus ater

 

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Passer domesticus

Passeridae (Sparrows)

There are two members of this family in Britain. They are small birds with stout beaks adapted to feed on seeds. They have mainly brown plumage and are gregarious.

Common Name

House sparrow

Scientific Name

Passer domesticus

 

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Prunella modularis

Prunellidae (Accentors)

There is only one member of this family in Britain. It is often mistaken for a sparrow but has a narrower beak and grey/brown plumage.

Common Name

Dunnock

Scientific Name

Prunella modularis

 

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Sturnus vulgaris

Sturnidae (Starlings)

There is one member of this family in Britain. Starlings are noisy and gregarious and have adapted well to living alongside humans. They form flocks sometimes numbering hundreds of thousands in the winter and perform impressive aerial displays.

Common Name

Starling

Scientific Name

Sturnus vulgaris

 

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Regulus regulus

Sylviidae (Warblers and allies)

This is a large family of mainly dull brown-coloured birds. They can be very difficult to tell apart other than by their rich songs. They have narrow bils for feeding on insects.

Common Name

Chiffchaff

Wood warbler

Willow warbler

Goldcrest

Scientific Name

Phylloscopus collybita

Phylloscopus sibilatrix

Phylloscopus trochilus

Regulus regulus

 

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Troglodytes troglodytes

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

There is only one species in Europe, although the St. Kilda wren is recognised as a separate subspecies. It is a very small brown-coloured bird with a distinctive cocked tail and loud song.

Common Name

Wren

Scientific Name

Troglodytes troglodytes

 

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Oenanthe oenanthe

Turdidae (Chats and thrushes)

This is a large family with two distinct groups which are sometimes separated into different families.

The thrushes are all medium-sized stocky birds with strong bills and we have six species in Britain, all of which have been recorded on Dundreggan.

The chats have eight British species; they are smaller and more slender than the thrushes.

Common Name

Robin

Wheatear

Redstart

Stonechat

Redwing

Blackbird

Song thrush

Fieldfare

Ring ouzel

Mistle thrush

Scientific Name

Erithacus rubecula

Oenanthe oenanthe

Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Saxicola torquata

Turdus iliacus

Turdus merula

Turdus philomelos

Turdus pilaris

Turdus torquatus

Turdus viscivorus

 

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Order: Pelecaniformes (Pelicans and allies)

This order comprises various large to medium-sized waterbirds but a number of different classifications have been suggested which place some families in different orders.

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Ardea cinerea

Ardeidae (Bitterns and herons)

This family comprises three species in Britain. They are tall waders with long necks, legs and bills. They feed on fish and amphibians as well as small mammals and young birds.

Common Name

Grey heron

Scientific Name

Ardea cinerea

 

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Phalacrocorax carbo

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and shags)

Cormorants are large, long-necked divers and have black plumage with with an irridescent sheen. Their plumage is not fully waterproof so after diving for fish they must spread their wings and dry off; this distinctive pose is how they are often seen.

Common Name

Cormorant

Scientific Name

Phalacrocorax carbo

 

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Order: Piciformes (Woodpeckers, toucans and relatives)

This order contains nine families and over 400 species worldwide. They are mostly arboreal and eat insects or fruit.

Dendrocopos major

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

Picidae have three resident species in Britain which are all insectivores. They have a robust body and stout bill for hammering into wood. Their feet are well adapted for climbing trees as they have two toes pointing forward and two backwards.

Common Name

Great spotted woodpecker*

Scientific Name

Dendrocopos major

 

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Order: Podicipediformes (Grebes)

This order contains 22 species in a single family worldwide.

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

There are five members of the this family in Britain. They are excellent swimmers and divers and have dense, waterproof plumage. They make their nests on floating rafts of vegetation.

Common Name

Little grebe

Scientific Name

Tachybaptus ruficollis

 

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Order: Strigiformes (Owls)

There are over 200 species of owls in this order. They are mostly solitary nocturnal predators which have feathers adapted for silent flight. They stand upright and have excellent vision and hearing.

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Strix aluco

Strigidae (Typical Owls)

There are five resident species in Britain, all of which have round faces and brown plumage.

Common Name

Tawny owl

Scientific Name

Strix aluco

 

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Tyto alba

Tytonidae (Barn Owls)

There is only one British species in this family, which is paler than the Strigidae and has a heart-shaped face.

Common Name

Barn owls

Scientific Name

Tyto alba

 

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