The UK is home to some of the most incredible species of birds in the world, with a wealth of variety and breath-taking beauty. You might be surprised to learn that the UK is also home to some of the largest birds in the world. From majestic ospreys to the mighty hen harrier, there are many species of birds throughout the country that can be found.
From grey herons to snowy owls, there’s something for everyone as you explore the UK’s diverse wildlife. However, it can be difficult to know where to start if you want to learn more about the UK’s wild birds. We’ve put together an incredibly comprehensive list of the UK’s largest and most spectacular birds to help you get started.
The Canada goose is one of the most common species of geese in the UK and is the largest goose species in the world. The Canada goose is a large goose species, with a weight of around 3 kilograms, and a wingspan of up to 90 centimetres.
The Canada goose is one of the most common species of geese in the UK and is the largest goose species in the world. The Canada goose is found across the British Isles and Europe, with the species being introduced to parts of North America and Australia. The Canada goose is often seen in large flocks in the winter, with smaller flocks in the summer months.
The cormorant, also known as a moorhen or stork, is a seabird in the family Phalacrocoracidae and is a widely distributed fish-eater. The cormorant was imported to the UK from North America in the 19th century, and is now widely distributed throughout the whole of the UK, with some breeding populations located in the southwest of England.
The cormorant is a long-necked, long-tailed bird with a large hooked beak. The cormorant is often seen in large flocks, with many individuals diving for food in the water.
The gannet is one of the most common species of seabirds in the UK, and can be found across much of Europe, Africa, and Asia as well as the Pacific Ocean. The gannet is notable for its distinctive black, white, and orange plumage, and its large wingspan, which can reach around 1.9 metres. The gannet is often seen in large flocks in the winter and spring, with smaller flocks in the summer months.
The gannet is known for its high-speed flight, with some populations even able to fly over 200 kilometres per hour! There are several species of seabirds in the gannet family, which are known collectively as ‘gannets’. The term ‘gannet’ is derived from the Latin ‘ganus’ meaning ‘hook’.
The grey heron is one of the most common species of herons in the UK and is a protected species. The grey heron is a medium-sized heron, with a wingspan of around 60 centimetres, and a length of around 90 centimetres. The grey heron is found across the UK, with large colonies in some of the country’s larger estuaries, such as the Thames, Mersey, and Severn Estuaries.
The grey heron is a solitary species, often hunting in small groups, and is known for its distinctive call which can be heard across much of the UK. The grey heron is sometimes seen fishing for food, with its long, sharp bill ideal for catching fish in the water.
The Common Crane
The UK is home to 45 species of cranes, but the common crane is the most widespread. The common crane can be found across much of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and is the tallest species at around 2 metres tall. The male common cranes can have a wingspan of up to 3.2 metres and weigh around 10 kilograms.
The common crane is significant both ecologically and culturally, being a protected species in many countries, including the UK. According to mythology, the common crane is one of the four mythical beasts of Wales. The common crane is also known as the ‘king of the crane family’, as it is the tallest species in the crane family.
The Golden Eagle
The golden eagle is the largest bird of prey in the Western hemisphere and is the largest eagle species in the world, with a wingspan of around 2.7 metres and a length of around 2.75 metres. However, the largest golden eagle specimen in the world was shot in Georgia, USA in 1899 with a wingspan of 3.25 metres! The golden eagle is found across much of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and has been introduced to many other parts of the world.
The golden eagle is often seen soaring in large flocks, competing with other birds of prey for space and prey. The golden eagle was made the national bird of the UK in 2002 in recognition of its importance to the country’s biodiversity.
The Sea Eagle
The sea eagle is the largest species in the eagle family, and is widespread across much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The sea eagle is known for its large wingspan and powerful talons, which it uses to hunt for fish in the water and ungulate prey on land.
The sea eagle is also a protected species in many countries including the UK, due to its status as a species of conservation concern. The sea eagle is known for its aggressive nature and hunting skills, with some population populations even engaging in territorial disputes with other eagles.
The Whooper Swan
The whooper swan is one of the heaviest and most recognizable species of swan in the UK, with a mass of around 15 kilograms and a length of around 90 centimetres. The whooper swan is unique for its ability to migrate long distances across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, making it one of the longest-distance migrants in the world.
The whooper swan is found across northern Europe, Asia, and North America and the species is the UK’s national aquatic bird. The whooper swan is often seen in large flocks of hundreds or thousands of birds in the winter, with smaller flocks in the summer.