National Geographic Society Newsroom

Top 25 Backyard Birds

Wild Bird Trust presents the Top 25 Backyard Birds! This week, in honour of the Great Backyard Bird Count, all birds featured are backyard birds. Backyards, or as some say, gardens, are excellent refuges for a wide range of birdlife. In a rapidly urbanising world gardens will become more and more important to sustaining bird...

Wild Bird Trust presents the Top 25 Backyard Birds! This week, in honour of the Great Backyard Bird Count, all birds featured are backyard birds. Backyards, or as some say, gardens, are excellent refuges for a wide range of birdlife. In a rapidly urbanising world gardens will become more and more important to sustaining bird populations. To attract birdlife to your garden and you should plant locally indigenous plants and trees. This will create corridors of natural habitat within the urban space for birds and other creatures to forage, breed and move through.

Thank you to everyone who shared their garden birdlife with us this week! If you haven’t yet, remember to spend 15 minutes recording the birds in your garden and submit the tally and species list to the Great Backyard Bird Count website. This global initiative collects vital data to look at where species occur and how they move.

We will announce the theme for next week’s Top 25 this coming Sunday so keep an eye on the Facebook page! For more wild bird updates, check out our Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as our Youtube channel.

These two Barn Swallows were photographed by Sutapa Karmakar in a garden in Kolkata. Pictured here is an adult and juvenile, the juvenile has a paler head and throat
A Black-naped Monarch photographed in a Kolkata garden by Arunava De. These birds are forest dwelling and a well-wooded backyard provides suitable habitat in urban areas
The European Goldfinch is a common garden visitor across Europe. They also occur seasonally in Asia (Edwin Godinho)
This Bluethroat, photographed in Kharagpur, India is migratory. They spend the southern summer in Africa and southern Asia. In autumn they will migrate north to breed in northern Eurasia and Alaska (Sayan Dasmahapatra)
A Coppersmith Barbet looking for food among the branches in Delhi (Gaurav Budhiraja)
A Eurasian Siskin at a garden feeder in Surrey, England (Edwin Godinho)
In India the Green Bee-eater undertakes local migrations- moving further south in the winters and to drier areas during the monsoon season (Ganesh Rao)
A Jungle Owlet photographed in a Kharagpur garden, these owls need trees to breed, particularly older trees with cavities. Urban areas can support populations of these owls when there are trees available (Sayan Dasmahapatra)
Bulbuls are common birds in gardens and the Red-vented Bulbul is no exception (Pranesh Kodancha)
Outside of the breeding season, when food availability is low, the Great Spotted Woodpecker often tears the bark off trees to find prey or drills holes to release sap (Edwin Godinho)
A Rose-ringed Parakeet photographed from a balcony in Bangalore (Ganesh Rao)
Scaly-breasted Munias are very common in India and south-east Asia. This is partially due to the fact that they breed year-round and can produce up to 5 fledglings per clutch! (Arun Samak)
The Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher can be found in forests, shrubby areas and dense gardens (Sanjoy Adak)
If you have a pond in your garden you may even get visitors like this White-breasted Waterhen! Photographed in a garden in Singapore by Lil’tography Lilian Sng
Redpolls occur across the northern hemisphere, breeding in the sub- Arctic regions and migrating south to the middle of the northern continents for the winter, some birds are resident between these two ranges (Jola Charlton)
Planting locally indigenous trees in your garden will encourage birdlife, some may even nest- like this Wood Thrush in Pennsylvania, USA (Melissa Penta)
This Blyth’s Reed-warbler was photographed from the bedroom window of Subham Chowdhury in Howrah, India
Planting nectar producing plants, or installing a nectar feeder, in your garden will attract nectarivores like this Calliope Hummingbird. photographed at a Columbine flower in Republic, USA (Tim Nicol)
Mallards are highly adaptable and will occur in almost any wetland habitat. Photographed in a garden in Düsseldorf, Germany (Meera Nerurkar)
A Red-shouldered Hawk photographed in a San Diego backyard (Judi Fenson). In western USA these hawks have adapted well to living within urban areas
A Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher photographed in a garden in Pune, India. This is a male, the females are a duller grey and have a paler rufous breast patch (Anvita Paranjpe)
A Common Kingfisher photographed in a Kolkata garden. These kingfishers eat mainly fish and insects. Like owls, after a meal they will regurgitate a pellet made up on bones and insect remains (Soumya Chakraborty)
A female Purple Sunbird photographed in Burdwan, India (Saptarshi Bhattacharjee). These sunbirds are considered pests in some vineyards as they like to eat the grapes
A Calliope Hummingbird feeding at a Blanket Flower in Republic, USA (Tim Nicol)
A Red-whiskered Bulbul feasting on berries in Bangalore, India (Ganesh Rao)

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Christie Craig, Campaign Manager


Top 25: Wild Birds on the Edge

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Author

Steve Boyes
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.