Ask the average person to name Britain's most common bird and they'll probably pick the Feral Pigeon. This is understandable, as for most people, the flocks of pigeons that inhabit the UK's towns and cities are the birds they see most often. However, research suggests the species is not actually the most common in the country.
According to the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), there are just over half a million breeding pairs of Feral Pigeons in the UK. The organisations' research is not conclusive and whether the number of pigeons living in urban areas has been accurately calculated isn't clear, but with 11 other species reported to have a UK population that numbers one million or more, it seems the Feral Pigeon is someway down the list of Britain's most common birds.
The million or more club
So, if not the Feral Pigeon, what are the most numerous species in the UK? Three members of the Corvid (crow) family - the Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw - all have populations roughly between one and 1.4 million. For Pheasants, the population is recorded as 2.3 million females, with no figure available for males. Considering the species is polygynous - one male breeds with a harem of females - it's likely the overall population may be closer to three million.
Also among the country's most common birds are the Great Tit and Blue Tit. Always attractive garden visitors, these species have populations of roughly 2.3 million and 3.6 million breeding pairs respectively.
The top five
We now move on to the UK's top five most numerous birds.
5. House Sparrow
At number five, it's the House Sparrow, with the latest research putting the species' population at 5.3 million breeding pairs. However, sparrow numbers have actually fallen dramatically in recent years, with an estimated decline of 71 per cent occurring between 1977 and 2008. You can give the House Sparrow population a helping hand by providing them with somewhere to nest in your garden.
4. Wood Pigeon
The fourth most common UK bird is the Feral Pigeon's cousin the Wood Pigeon. Larger, and some would say more attractive, than their feral counterparts, Wood Pigeons are a common sight in both urban and rural environments, with 5.3 million breeding pairs calling the UK home.
In third is the colourful Chaffinch, with a population of around 6.3 million across the country. One of the main reasons Chaffinches are so numerous is the ease with which they have adapted to living in gardens, parks and other man-made environments.
Recently voted the nation's favourite bird, the Robin is also the second most numerous, with a population of around 6.7 million. You can make your garden an attractive destination for these iconic birds by providing their favourite food.
Britain's most common bird is one of its smallest: the Wren. Because of its diminutive size, the typical Wren is just two per cent the weight of a Wood Pigeon, and tendency to stick to cover, the species isn't seen as regularly as its large population would suggest. Increase your chances of catching sight of the delightful little birds by installing a Wren nest box in your garden.