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British Birds - Martins, Swallows, Pipits and Wagtails
This species lives in close association with humans, and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by man. Do you know what it is?

British Birds - Martins, Swallows, Pipits and Wagtails

The swallows and martins are a group of birds which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Pipits and wagtails are part of the family Motacillidae. The genus is widespread, occurring across most of the world, except the driest deserts, rainforests and the mainland of Antarctica.

Test your knowledge of these birds in the following picture quiz.

To see a larger image, click on the picture.
1.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of Malene Thyssen
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Barn Swallow
House Martin
  • Group: Swallows and Martins
  • Binomial: Hirundo rustica
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Hirundinidae
  • Status: Breeding Summer Visitor
  • This species lives in close association with humans, and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by man; this acceptance was reinforced in the past by superstitions regarding the bird and its nest.
2.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of Ejdzej
Meadow Pipit
Sand Martin
House Martin
Barn Swallow
  • Group: Swallows and Martins
  • Binomial: Riparia riparia
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Hirundinidae
  • Status: Breeding Summer Visitor
  • These birds are summer visitors and are among the earliest spring arrivals, often arriving in early March.
  • They start their return journey to southern Africa for the winter in August.
3.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of Marboline
Rock Pipit
Water Pipit
House Martin
Pied Wagtail
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Anthus spinoletta
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Winter Visitor
  • It is greyish-brown above and pale below with streaks on its breast.
  • It has a pale stripe over its eye, a slender bill and dark legs.
  • Mainly visits southern and eastern England.
4.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of MPF
Rock Pipit
Tree Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Anthus petrosus
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Resident Breeding Species
  • Some birds arrive here from Norway to spend the winter.
  • The song is a series of 'blocks' of repeated more or less shrill cheeping single or double notes; it ends on a trill.
  • This species is insectivorous.
5.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of www.geograph.org.uk/profile/13903
Sand Martin
Water Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Motacilla alba
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Breeding Summer Visitor
  • The most distinctive feature is its wagging tail - it never stops!
  • Can be seen dashing about over lawns or car parks in search of food.
  • Often gathers at dusk to form large roosts in city centres.
6.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of Myosotis Scorpioides
Rock Pipit
Water Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Anthus pratensis
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Resident Breeding Species
  • A small, brown, streaky bird
  • It is the commonest songbird in upland areas and its high, piping call is a familiar sound.
  • Will even come to suburban parks and playing fields.
7.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of touch_of_frost
Water Pipit
Grey Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Motacilla flava flavissima
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Breeding Summer Visitor
  • The call is a characteristic high-pitched 'jeet'.
  • This insectivorous bird inhabits open country near water.
  • It nests in tussocks, laying 4-8 speckled eggs.
8.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of J M Garg
Water Pipit
Grey Wagtail
Tree Pipit
Rock Pipit
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Anthus trivialis
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Breeding Summer Visitor
  • The song flight is unmistakable.
  • The bird rises a short distance up from a tree, and then parachutes down on stiff wings, the song becoming more drawn out towards the end.
  • The call is a strong 'spek'.
9.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of Kclama
Grey Wagtail
Barn Swallow
Pied Wagtail
Water Pipit
  • Group: Wagtails and Pipits
  • Binomial: Motacilla cinerea
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Motacillidae
  • Status: Resident Breeding Species
  • Their diet comprises insects, such as midges and ants, which they find alongside rivers, etc.
  • They will also take water snails and tadpoles from shallow water.
  • The young are fed by both parents.
10.
What is the name of this bird?
Photograph courtesy of Omar Runolfsson
House Martin
Pied Wagtail
Water Pipit
Rock Pipit
  • Group: Swallows and Martins
  • Binomial: Delichon urbicum
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Hirundinidae
  • Status: Breeding Summer Visitor
  • It spends much of its time on the wing collecting insect prey.
  • The bird's mud nest is usually sited below the eaves of buildings.
  • Mostly associated with man, found around towns and villages.

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