With over 300 bird species in Britain alone, we are spoilt with the amount of wildlife that is right on our doorstep.


If you want to learn more about the birds in your area, picking up one of the best British bird identification books is a great way to do so.

Being able to identify the birds visiting your garden will help you know what bird food to put out, where to put it and if they need anything extra depending on the time of year.

There are a lot of different bird identification books available and they do vary in quality and the amount of detail they provide.

Many of the best bird identification guides come with large colourful images to make it as easy as possible to recognise birds, along with additional information of how many of the species there are in Britain and what geographical regions they are typically spotted in.

Here is a range of the best British bird identification books on offer including pocket guides, and books dedicated to rare British birds.

For even more birdwatching gear, take a look at our garden bird guide or invest in some of the best kit for wildlife watchers. Alternatively, treat friends and family to some gifts for bird lovers.

The best British bird identification books to buy in 2023

It is always great to know a little bit more about the birds visiting your garden. Browse a selection of the best British bird identification books to help you recognise the different species in your local area.

Britain’s Birds (Second Edition)

By Robert Hume et al.

Britain's Birds Book

The RSPB describe this identification guide as the only book to cover every bird, in every plumage, ever recorded in Britain and Ireland. It features more than 3,200 photographs, gives comparisons on similar and difficult species to identify and has species accounts that detail the bird's status, number in Britain and where they are usually spotted.

Suitable for both beginners and advanced bird watchers, this guide is bound to become a well-used book in your household. If you're looking for something more portable, there is also a pocket guide.

Collins Bird Guide — The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

By Lars Svensson et al.

Collins Bird Guide

The second edition of the 1999 Collins Bird Guide has been expanded with more information and additional colour illustrations. The book provides a variety of information on each bird including size, habitat, range, identification and birdsong.

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This thorough guide includes the main issues that tend to occur when you’re trying to identify and observe certain bird groups. The identification book also covers how to separate birds of prey in flight, so there are plenty of handy tips and tricks to help enhance your knowledge and experience.

Collins BTO Guide to British Birds

By Paul Sterry and Paul Stancliffe

Collins BTO Guide to British Birds

A collaboration between Collins and the British Trust for Ornithology, the Collins BTO Guide to British Birds should tell you everything you need to know about common birds in Britain. Its creators say the book has been produced with beginners in mind making it a great option for those just dipping their toes into wildlife watching.

Collins BTO Guide to Rare British Birds

By Paul Sterry and Paul Stancliffe

Collins Guide to Rare Birds

Another collaboration between Collins and the British Trust for Ornithology but this time it is dedicated to the rare birds of Britain and Ireland. Species descriptions make up a vast amount of the book, which contain photographs and outline key features such as vocalisations to help you identify them. It works particularly well as companion book to the first Collins BTO guide.

The Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland

By Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzens

Corssley ID Guide

Aimed at beginners and immediate birders, this book looks at all regularly occurring bird species in Britain and Ireland. The field guide helps readers identify birds in their natural habitats using size, structure, shape, probability and behaviour, along with detailing a range of plumages.

RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds (Second Edition)

By Simon Harrap

Pocket Guide to British Birds

Containing almost 950 illustrations and 215 colour distribution maps, this compact field guide offers a lot for its size. Measuring 116 x 169mm, the RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds features one or two birds per page with each accompanied by a concise description that includes calls and song, habitat, distribution and status, behaviour and easily confused species.

RSPB Guide to Birdsong

By Adrian Thomas

RSPB Guide to Bird Song

Identifying a bird by its song can be difficult, but this RSPB guide takes you through how to learn to recognise different bird sounds. Written by Adrian Thomas, the book is accompanied by a CD of over 100 songs and calls of 65 garden, woodland and farmland birds.

Birds: ID Insights — Identifying the More Difficult Birds of Britain

By Dominic Couzens and Dave Nurney

Birds ID Insights

Birds: ID Insights is designed for birders of all levels with special attention placed on how to gauge the age of birds. In total, the book covers more than 230 species but the authors dedicate most of their time to identify the more difficult species such as Subalpine Warbler, Short-toed Lark, and Red-rumped Swallow.

RSPB Handbook of Scottish Birds (Second Edition)

By Peter Holden and Stuart Housden

RSPB Handbook of Scottish Birds

For those fond of the Scottish countryside, this RSPB Handbook depicts over 250 species. Each account includes information on identification, voice, habits, habitat, food, breeding, ecology, seasonal movements, population and conservation. There are over 1,000 colour illustrations and distribution maps, too.


Holly PyneDigital Reviews Writer