Key to Garden and Village Birds

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Key to Common Garden and Village Birds of Europe — Tomi Trilar
This key is limited to observations of birds that are singing or otherwise producing sounds with their bills.
Geographic Scope: Central Europe — Source: (original work) — Collaboration: open — Status: Under testing: Sounds of 3 species are missing. Species pages not done (species links in red = not yet created). — Contributors: Tomi Trilar, Gregor Hagedorn (formatting and minor adaptations), Bob Press (style and language improvements)
1a
Bird either clattering its bill or drumming on wood.   ► 2
Ciconia-ciconia silhouette TTrilar-PMSL.jpg
Dendrocopos-major silhouette TTrilar-PMSL.jpg
1b
Bird singing or calling.   ► 5
2a
Black and white bird, 100 to 115 cm tall, with half of that height being made up by the red legs. Often clattering its bill. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
2b
Bird less than half as large, usually climbing the trees using stiff tail as a support. Drumming rhythmically on tree trunks (woodpeckers).   ► 3
3a
Back black with the white spots. Drums in spring, the drum rolls characteristically short. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i) Song consists of short, sharp, high-pitched notes. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
3b
Back green.   ► 4
4a
Head and crown grey. Drums frequently with loud and rather fast rolls. Song a series of 6-9 mechanical-sounding whistles, which gradually drop in pitch. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus)
Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus)
4b
Head green with a red crown. Drums rarely with soft, fast rolls. Song a loud, laughing series of 10-18 notes, which do not drop in pitch. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
5a
Singing mostly during the night.   ► 6
5b
Singing mostly during the day.   ► 9
6a
Song a long, rattling or gargling shriek, regularly repeated. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
6b
Song composed of clear, short notes with a pause between each one, regularly repeated.   ► 7
6c
Song usually long and melodious, without a pause.   ► 8
7a
Song a loud, short, deep whistles, constantly repeated every 2-3 seconds. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Scops Owl (Otus scops)
Scops Owl (Otus scops)
7b
Song a series of soft, deep hoots, regularly repeated. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
8a
Song containing recurring whistles in crescendo lu lu lü lü li li. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
8b
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
8c
Song loud and complicated, with characteristic krschkrschkrsch sounds. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
9a
Bird climbing tree trunks using the stiff tail as a support or climbing in all directions.   ► 10
9b
Bird rarely climbing tree trunks and then only climbing upwards without using tail as a support.   ► 14
10a
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
10b
Bird always climbing upwards using its tail for support.   ► 11
11a
Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
11b
Medium sized woodpecker, somewhat larger than a Blackbird. Back black or green. Making loud calls or drumming on wood.   ► 12
12a
Back black with the white spots. Drums in spring, rolls characteristically short. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i) Song consists of short, sharp, high-pitched notes. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
12b
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
12c
Back green. Drums in spring.   ► 13
13a
Head and crown grey. Drums frequently, with loud and rather fast rolls. Song a series of 6-9 mechanical-sounding whistles, which gradually drop in pitch Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus)
Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus)
13b
Head green with a red crown. Drums only rarely but then with fast, soft rolls. Song a loud, laughing series of 10-18 notes, which do not drop in pitch. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
14a
Bird 2 to 3 times the size of a Blackbird.   ► 15
14b
Bird approximately the same size as a Blackbird.   ► 23
14c
Bird at most half of the size of the Blackbird.   ► 24
Larger bird, 2-3 times the size of a Blackbird
15a
Bird uniformly coloured (black or grey).   ► 16
15b
Bird bi-coloured or multi-coloured.   ► 19
16a
Bird mostly uniformly medium or light grey, the breast and belly only slightly lighter than the rest of the plumage.   ► 17
16b
Bird mostly uniformly black or dark grey.   ► 18
17a
Abundant in parks, often feeding on grass lawns. Neck with a large white patch at the side. Wing with uniformly grey underside and a white transverse band clearly visible on the upper surface in flight. Singing high up in the canopy. Song is a hollow, hoarse, stifled, growling hooh-hrooo ... Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
17b
Widespread and abundant in towns and cities, usually in flocks. Generally grey, but also in many colour variants. Wings white on underside. Song is a moaning drroo-u, repeated several times, often with faint increase in volume.   Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica)
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica)
17c
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
18a
Bird appearing completely dark at a distance but at closer range is dark grey with lighter grey over neck and nape. Call a rather short and cutting kyack  Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
18b
Bird uniformly black. Very noisy, commonest call, also functioning as song, is a hard rolling croak repeated 3 to 4 times, krra-kraa-kraa  Carrion Crow (Corvus corone corone)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone corone)
19a
Bird bi-coloured (generally only two colours of plumage).   ► 20
19b
Bird multi-coloured.   ► 21
20a
Magpie (Pica pica)
20b
Hooded Crow (Corvus corone cornix)
21a
Wings broadly rounded; wings and tail black and white striped. Orange body and crown with an erectile crest like that of a Native American Chief. Bill long, narrow and slightly down-curved. Song hollow, muffled with 3 (sometimes only 2) syllables oop-oop-oop. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
21b
Wings pointed and triangular; wings and tail long. Bill short.   ► 22
22a
Back, head and breast plain blue-grey, the sharply defined belly area white with dark bars. Familiar song of two syllables kooo-koo is repeated for a long time. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
22b
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Medium-sized bird, similar in size to a Blackbird
23a
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
23b
Bird black with many white spots on the body. Song very complicated sequence of loud whistles and rather soft knocking sounds or squeaks. Often imitating other birds. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
23c
Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)
Small bird, the size of a Sparrow
24a
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
24b
Bird more delicate in all its parts. Tail longer.   ► 25
25a
Breast uniformly bright orange.   ► 26
25b
Breast yellow.   ► 27
25c
Breast whitish, grey or brown.   ► 28
26a
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
26b
Back grey; belly orange like the breast. Legs black. Song with a short, soft, melancholy verse at high pitch, which is constantly repeated from first morning light until the evening. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
27a
Head yellow, like the breat. Back brown with dark strips. Song consists of a series of 5 to 8 high-pitched, rapidly repeated trills, flagging at the end si-si-si-si-si-süü. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
27b
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
27c
Great Tit (Parus major)
28a
Upper side (at least back in tail) mainly black. Silhouette with long, narrow pointed wings and forked tail (Swallow like silhouette).   ► 29
28b
Upper side brown.   ► 31
28c
Upper side grey.   ► 34
28d
Upper side not black, brown or grey.   ► 37
29a
Bird entirely black except for the pale throat. Usually observed in flight, catching insects and calling with a shrill, monotone, ringing scream srriiirr. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Swift (Apus apus)
Swift (Apus apus)
29b
Belly and underparts of the tail white.   ► 30
30a
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
30b
House Martin (Delichon urbica)
31a
Bird more or less entirely brownish. Song long and melodious; pauses between syllables are short.   ► 32
31b
Bird with only upperparts brownish. Breast and belly whitish or greyish. Syllables of the song are short, with a longer pause between.   ► 33
32a
Very small, uniformly brown bird, with the tail held erect when singing. Usually found in forest or in city parks and large gardens with dense vegetation. Sings loudly, usually from the lower branches of trees or the tops of bushes. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
32b
Plain brown bird, appearance with slightly darker upperparts and paler underparts. More often heard then seen. Song best recognised by recurring whistles in crescendo lu lu lü lü li li. It also sings during the night. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
32c
Hedge Accentor or Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
33a
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
33b
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
34a
Head colours making a distinctive mask.   ► 35
34b
Head uniformly coloured.   ► 36
35a
Bird black, white and grey, slender, with a long tail, which is constantly wagged up and down. Cheerful, two- or three-syllable call is easily recognisable, tsli-vitt or zi-ze-litt. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
35b
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
35c
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
36a
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
36b
Upperparts dark grey. Belly and underparts of the tail red. Tail constantly vibrated. Song loud and complicated with characteristic krschkrschkrsch sounds. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
37a
Bird yellowish-green in general appearance, with no prominent white pattern on wings or head.   ► 38
37b
Bird more bright coloured, with white patterns on wings or head.   ► 39
38a
Robust bird with strong, prominent bill. Song a flowing series of twittering and trilling notes. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i) Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
38b
Smaller, more delicate bird with tiny bill. Song a very fast and almost strained stream of squeaky, sharp and jingling notes at even pitch. Sings from treetops or in song-flights made with stiff, slow-motion wingbeats. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Serin (Serinus serinus)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
39a
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
39b
Very colourful bird (black, yellow, red, brown, white) with an unmistakable red “face”. Wings black with a broad yellow bar. Song rather quiet; consisting of rapid trills, meowing notes and twittering sequences. Click to play sound (may change window, try Ctrl-click)(i)   Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)