What is the UK’s most unfairly ignored bird?

There are some birds that are almost universally liked (Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush?) and quite a few that have more of a Marmite effect on people, some love them and others hate them (Hen Harrier, Cormorant?).  There are some species that have their detractors – I think there is something evil about Linnets, of course.

But what of the overlooked species – the ones that hardly ever crop up in conversation? The ones that seem not to generate strong feelings one way or the other?

Here, just for fun, are my five candidates for ‘most unfairly ignored’ UK bird species.  You might have other suggestions for this list but what I’m asking you to do is to vote for which of these species deserve more of our love – and tell us all why in your comments please.


Photo: Chris Cant via wikimedia commons
Photo: Chris Cant via wikimedia commons

Stock Dove







Photo: MPF via wikimedia commons
Photo: MPF via wikimedia commons

Rock Pipit









Photo: Frank Vassen via wikimedia commons
Photo: Frank Vassen via wikimedia commons

Little Grebe








Photo: Maga-chan via wikimedia commons
Photo: Maga-chan via wikimedia commons









Photo: Artur Mikołajewski via wikimedia commons
Photo: Artur Mikołajewski via wikimedia commons

Reed Bunting








And here is the link to vote.


35 Replies to “What is the UK’s most unfairly ignored bird?”

  1. Plus the reed bunting is the most polite bird. They seem to say ” tweet tweet …pardon”

    1. LOL, I always thought Reed Buntings called ‘cheese-on-toast’!
      I vote for the Stock Dove, an incredibly beautiful bird, which doesn’t get in the way and roars like a lion

  2. 2 birds that have totally different but fabulous plumage in my mind but get ignored are:

    I agree with Gadwall because if you look closely at those feathers you get something different every time, my favourite duck. Presumably ignored because its not colourful.

    I also get, on a daily basis, in my garden a bird that has a range of colours from slate blue chest blushed with pink, a beautiful grey blue head, elements of reflective green/blue and with white in places. Ignored because it’s called a woodpigeon but just think how many would line up to applaud it if it was rare.

  3. I think Reed Buntings are very striking and very occasionally we are housed with a visit to our garden, they are most welcome, females too.

  4. I agree with both rock pipit and reed bunting. The UK has a phenomenally long and varied coastline and collection of islands, and it is always cheering to hear and see a songbird like the rock pipit busily foraging, singing and going about its business in this often largely marine environment.

    The same is true of the reed bunting in our wetlands.

    I also think the meadow pipit is often overlooked. Quite often it is the only audible and visible sign of bird-life in some of our uplands. Some may feel that it’s song and song-flight are less uplifting than those of the skylark, but both have an energy and charm all of their own. And it provides necessary sustenance for other upland birds like the merlin and hen harrier…..

    1. …..and the meadow pipit makes a great foster parent for many of our dwindling stock of cuckoos…….

  5. I voted Reed Bunting. Attractive, inhabit the kind of habitat that should tells us whether we have got the balance of land management about right.

  6. The dunnock for a very similar reason to Keiths’ Meadow Pipit and the role with Cuckoos.

  7. Sorry cannot vote as I think all five of these are fabulous birds and could not imagine overlooking them.It would simply be disloyal to all five to vote.
    We sat in Greylake car park today having lunch and on two bird tables and two half coconut shells that I guess were full of hard fat there were probably about 8 Reed Buntings really close to the car and letting us enjoy watching them.

    1. Dennis – they are all lovely, and all unfairly ignored. Which would you most like to see get some more of the limelight?

  8. Mark find it really really difficult to say which one should get more limelight but if pushed would have to go for the Stock Dove which close up is a really beautiful bird but the main reason for saying it should get more limelight is that I suspect it could become extinct as a pure bred bird if it breeds with feral Pigeons.

    1. Dennis – what excellent taste you have – I’ve always said so (when yours agrees with mine). No problem with interbreeding, Stock Doves keep themselves very pure.

  9. “What is the UK’s most unfairly ignored bird?”

    I don’t know. Are there some that are fairly ignored?

  10. Mark,good news that Stock Doves have no inbreeding with feral Pigeons,do Rock Doves interbreed with feral Pigeons?
    Saw one flying Bittern at Ham Wall today and one or more booming about mid-day.What a pity so many birds decreasing in numbers while we are fortunate in seeing lots of rare birds that previous decades we would never have seen.
    If only we could see the same co-operation between farmers and RSPB that we have had between farmers sending fodder from all over the country to other farmers on Somerset Levels because of the flooding.Surely the decline in lots of birds would halt.
    RSPB take note,farmers will respond if approached in the right way,there is a lesson there if you care to look at what happened.

  11. I’ve gone for Stock Dove. Have a pair visiting regularly and they are stunning birds but easily overlooked when pigeon flocks fly over farmland. I’ve taken to checking these, almost as carefully as gull flocks!

    Reed Bunting also a garden list bird and I find them hard to overlook. Smart little creatures!

  12. Oh no! I don’t know! My first reaction is probably Little Grebe… They’re engaging, beautiful and endearing. There was one in Scilly last October, quite scarce there on reflection, and I found that I spent more time watching the Grebe than either the Jack Snipe or Bluethroat. That said, I love all of the above. We have Stock Doves and Reed Bunting on the feeders at work, so they’re close joint second. Great to see Toby Carter on here 🙂 He’s a brilliant young birder and blogger!

  13. Stock Dove, a gorgeous bird. One species that, many years ago, took a long time to get on to my life list, so I had overlooked it. But no longer.

  14. Sorry, I don’t think any of these are deliberately overlooked by anyone with a real interest in birds. Stock doves are inadvertently missed when mistaken for other species.

    The species which is deliberately overlooked, ignored and often reviled by both birders and public is the Feral Pigeon. Many birders don’t record them – sometimes even when doing BTO surveys! They are “birds non grata”.

    I like our town pigeons and find them quite fascinating, living out their whole lives in little communities in full view under railway bridges and in parks etc.

    No contest, Mark.

  15. I chose Reed Bunting as we don’t seem them so often these days, a strange little song but will always call my attention, never overlooked by us. But neither are the other four, they are all worthy in their own right. The call of the Stock Dove, the pretty little package of the Little Grebe, the not really so dull Rock Pipit especially when song flighting and the Gadwall is hubby’s favourite duck and I can see why.

  16. Difficult choice, Mark, I like them all but, as I have to choose, my vote is going for Stock Dove. They’re overlooked by many for being too similar to those much maligned birds Feral Pigeon and Woodpigeon but close too are far more elegant and better proportioned than either with beautifully subtle plumage

  17. Quite obvious, and its none of these – it is, of course, that beautiful and much maligned bird, The Linnet

  18. These are great candidates. I too would have added dunnock, such a sweet song and great to watch. Stock Dove display flights are a joy. Reed buntings aren’t ignored – any farmland record is important nowadays so I always point one out. Jackdaws are all around the high street here in Billericay but few people mention them.

  19. All of these birds deserve the vote but I think the Stock Dove is beautiful, love everything about them from their noise making down my chimney to their commical walk and their almost bulbous physique…love to see them

  20. Stock Dove. They’re big and common, but seem to keep a remarkably low profile. And if one day they weren’t there it would be heartbreaking. So enjoy…. while Stocks last..

  21. My vote for the Stock Dove is due entirely to standing next to a birder of many years scanning a field in drizzly rain and having one pointed out. Never again overlooked as just another ‘pigeon’!

  22. I’ve gone for Stock Dove, as it is most likely to be shot in mistake for Wood Pigeons, anything to raise the profile. Would probably go for Corn Buntings outside these five.

Comments are closed.