When spring and summer are in full swing, gardens burst with music. But who's that singing centre stage?

Have a listen to some of these likely garden songsters and you'll soon get your ear in. Once you've mastered some of the most common songs, you'll start to notice them everywhere!   

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Song

A silvery, crystal song that becomes more wistful during the winter months.

Call

Produces a rapid, urgent 'tic' call when alarmed.

Best time to hear

Can be heard all year round, but especially at dusk. Artificial lighting can encourage it to sing long into the evening.

Audio: Andrew Harrop / xeno-canto.org

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Song

Rich and mellow with a languid pace and short pauses between phrases.

Call

Scolding, harsh outburst when alarmed and often delivered in flight.

Best time to hear

Typically heard on long summer evenings.

Audio: Frank Lambert / xeno-canto.org

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Song

A loud burst of song with consistent phrases, including a tell-tale machine gun rattle towards the end.

Call

A loud, rapid 'tititic' when alarmed.

Best time to hear

Can be heard all year round but especially in spring.

Audio: Mike Ball / xeno-canto.org

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Song

A short warble which is flatter and less melodious than robin or blackbird. Not to be confused with wren song with is much more forceful and higher pitched.

Call

Repetitive 'tseep' sound, often heard from dense bushes or undergrowth. 

Best time to hear

From as early as January and into summer.

Audio: David M / xeno-canto.org

Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)

Song

Twittery and similar to goldfinch song but with a characteristic wheeze when in flight.

Call

A distinctive nasal wheeze given when perched.

Best time to hear

Most vocal during the breeding season from April to June.

Audio: Stuart Fisher / xeno-canto.org

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Song

Short and fast descending song that ends with 'diddieoo', or repetitive, insistent single notes known as the chaffinch's rain song.

Calls

Contact call is an abrupt 'pink, pink' sound.

Best time to hear

Can be heard throughout spring and summer.

Audio: Dave Curtis / xeno-canto.org

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Song

Light and twittery song with delicate phrases. 

Call

Produces various calls, some fluttery and others shrill, particularly when travelling in groups. 

Best time to hear

Listen for them from late April.

Audio: Stuart Fisher / xeno-canto.org

Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Song

A short, high pitched phrase similar to 'tsee tsee tsee chu-chu-chu'.

Call

Has a variety of contact and alarm calls, from inquisitive 'churr' sounds to softer peeps.

Best time to hear

Can be heard throughout the year but mostly from late winter through to the end of the breeding season.

Audio: David M / xeno-canto.org

Great tit (Parus major)

Song

Clear and repetitive 'tea-cher, tea-cher, tea-cher'.

Calls

Has a range of calls that can be difficult even for seasoned birdwatchers to identify.

Best time to hear

Begins singing in early spring as buds begin to burst.

Audio: Stuart Fisher / xeno-canto.org

Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Song 

Variety of short, high-pitched phrases, usually repeated two or three times in quick succession.

Call

Flight call is a sharp 'tsip'.

Best time to hear

Males begin singing as early as January, particularly in early morning.

Audio: David M / xeno-canto.org

Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)

Song

Repeats the same cooing phrase to the rhythm of 'my toooe bleeds, Bet-ty'.

Call

A deep, throaty coo. Also listen for the tell-tale wing claps made during display flights.

Best time to hear

Can be heard throughout the year.

Audio: Patrik Aberg / xeno-canto.org

Collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Song

A repeated, monotonous phrase, much shorter and simpler than woodpigeon with just three parts: 'hoo hooo-hoo'.

Call

A forceful, nasal sounding 'whurr'. 

Best time to hear

Can be heard all year round.

Audio: Patrik Aberg / xeno-canto.org

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Song

Has an incredible repertoire of whistles, clicks, trills and chatters. It is also known to imitate other birds and clack its bill as part of its song. 

Call

Uses several different sounds as contact and alarm calls, including harsh screeches, softer purrs and rattles. 

Best time to hear

Can be heard during most of the year, and communal autumn roosts can be particularly noisy!

Audio: Bram Piot / xeno-canto.org

House sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Song

Alternating series of cheeps and chirps. These gregarious birds can produce quite a chorus when vocalising together in their group, usually from hedgerows or thick shrubs.

Call

A simple cheep sound to communicate with other birds in the flock.

Best time to hear

Can be heard throughout the year.

Audio: Stuart Fisher / xeno-canto.org

Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Song

Unlike the other birds on our list, great spotted woodpeckers don't sing to defend their territory. Instead they advertise to mates by drumming their strong beaks against trees, producing a rapid, echoing sound. 

Call

A loud, strident 'tchik tchik', usually given in flight. 

Best time to hear

Listen for drumming in early spring just as leaves are about to burst.

Audio: James Bradley / xeno-canto.org

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