Articles | Birds Of Prey

A Guide To Our Native Birds Of Prey

When you think of native species of birds of prey found in the UK, how many can you name?

A lot of people can name a few common birds such as the barn owl, tawny owl, kestrel, buzzard and red kite - but what some people don't know is that we are blessed with a total of 20 different species on our little islands here in the UK.

This series of articles is going to look at each of these wonderful birds individually, but for now here is a brief introduction to them all.

Our Owls

We have five native species of owls here in the UK. Owls are classified into two families, the 'typical' or 'true owls' and the 'barn owls'. Of our five species, four are typical owls and one is a barn owl (I'll let you guess which one that is!). All owls share some common traits; a large broad head, some form of facial disc (the flat round feather discs that surround the eyes), binocular vision, silent (or very quiet) flight and acute hearing.

Although a proportion of owls are nocturnal (active at night) others are actually crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) or diurnal (active during the day). Note that I say active and not awake. When referring to an owl as nocturnal for example, this doesn't mean that they sleep all day and are only awake at night, it refers to the fact that they tend to be most active during the night. There are many factors that can alter their patterns of activity. So, what are the five species that you will find in the UK?

Barn Owls

Typical Owls

Our Raptors

We have 15 different species of raptors in the UK, belonging to several different families. They are all diurnal species so are active during the daytime and it is likely that you have seen at least a few of them when out and about.

Some of the most common ones you are likely to see are the common buzzard and red kite, soaring in the skies as they circle on thermals, or the kestrel hovering at the roadside. As with the owls they all share some common traits, long sharp talons, a strong hooked beak and acute eyesight.

Here are our fifteen species grouped together by family: