Field guide to the most commonly encountered mammals and birds

Here, we provide some basic information regarding commonly observed species (plus some others about which we have had queries).  

Feel free to contact us by email if you have any questions regarding species you have encountered on the site.

For more information about mammals, we recommend the Mammal Society's species hub, here, and MammalNet here. For birds, excellent resources are available from the RSPB (here) and the BTO (here).


Common UK Mammals All UK Mammals Common UK Birds All Species All Deer

Eurasian Jay

Scientific name: Garrulus glandarius

Family: Corvidae

Appearance: Unmistakable bird with pinkish, grey-brown plumage with a white throat and rump. It has a broad black moustache-stripe at the side of the throat and the white crown is spotted with black. The wing has a light blue panel dotted with fine black spots, the tail is black and the legs are a pinkish brown. Males and females are the same size and colour.

Size: Length 32 – 35 cm; wingspan 54 – 58 cm

Call: The jay has a loud, hoarse scream ‘kschaach’ which is usually given when the bird is on the move but may also be used to advertise its presence. Can also mimic the calls of other birds including Buzzard and Goshawk.

Natural history: The Jay is a woodland bird and likes to stay under cover so may be difficult to see. It prefers woodland that is rich in acorns which it caches in autumn to use as food through the winter. Where acorns are in short supply it will also feed on beechnuts and hornbeam seeds. In the summer however, it will also include eggs and young birds in its diet. Jays, like other corvids, are highly intelligent and retain memory of their food caches with remarkable accuracy. They also use tools and have been shown to use foresight and planning.

The jay builds an untidy nest of twigs in trees. It is constructed by both birds and is lined with roots, hair and fibres. The female lays 3 – 10 eggs which are pale blue-green or olive coloured with buff-coloured speckles. Incubation is done by the female, but both birds feed the chicks.

 (C) Richard Towell (shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)