London Wildlife

Where to See Birds and Animals in London

You may think there would not be many unusual birds and animals in a city as large and busy as London but there are plenty of surprises to be found. My city garden has more foxes and squirrels than the English countryside and my bird feeder attracts some interesting bird varieties. (I'm a big fan of the really easy to use RSPB bird identifier.)

Sure, we have London Zoo which is one of the oldest zoos in the world and we have city farms and children's zoos scattered across town too (I like Golders Hill Park Zoo and Hackney City Farm which are both free to visit.) But we also have many unusual free-range animals and birds which you wouldn't expect.

  • 01 of 10
    Peacock in Holland Park London
    ••• © Laura Porter

    This peaceful west London park has peacocks roaming around. The birds live in the park so can be seen there every day.

    (There used to be wild rabbits in Holland Park too but I haven't seen them for a long time and no-one seems to know anything about them so maybe they've gone.)

    I've also been told there are peacocks in Maryon Wilson Park in Charlton but I've not visited to confirm.

  • 02 of 10

    This roof garden is on top of a former department store on Kensington High Street. While the busy shoppers walk by at street level up on the roof is a wonderland including flamingos. The gardens are often used for private events but are open to the public for free at all other times. 

  • 03 of 10

    Richmond Park Deer

    ••• A red deer stands in Richmond Park in Autumn light with the city apartment buildings silhouetted in the background. Alan Crossland/Getty Images

    There are 630 Red and Fallow wild deer in Richmond Park. They have been here since 1529 and it's fine to walk through the park to see them although you should give them more space in the autumn/fall (September and October) as it is rutting season and the males compete for the female attention and you don't want to get in the way of that.

    If you prefer your deer in an enclosure it's worth visiting Clissold Park in east London where there are animals, an aviary, and a butterfly dome too.

  • 04 of 10

    St James's Park Pelicans

    There are six pelicans in this royal park right in the center of the city. They are a popular addition and are often seen walking along the paths and looking for treats. You can watch them being fed at 2.30-3pm outside Duck Island (near Horse Guards Parade). They are completely free to fly over London yet they always come back to the Park as this is home.

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  • 05 of 10
    ••• One of the legendary ravens at the Tower of London. Brent Winebrenner/Getty Images

    It is said that if the ravens left the Tower of London the kingdom would fall but nowadays they are just an added tradition to see. There are seven ravens. One of the Yeoman Warders is the Ravenmaster and feeds them every day. So they don't fly away the 'lifting feathers' are removed but these birds lead a privileged life and enjoy raw meat and blood-soaked biscuits every day. While the birds are used to posing for photos do not try and touch them as they will bite.

  • 06 of 10
    Parakeet in London
    ••• © Garry Knight

    There are fabulous urban myths about the parakeets in London originating from a pair that Jimi Hendrix released to add color to the city but, as with most urban myths, it has little basis in reality. These bright green birds can be seen in Kensington Gardens and regularly across south and west London as there are now many thousands of these exotic birds that call London their home.

  • 07 of 10

    Herons

    Herons eat fish so these long-legged waders can often be seen near patches of water in London. I've certainly seen them in Kensington Gardens at Long Water (near the Peter Pan Statue) and in Crystal Palace Park by the concrete dinosaurs.

    You may also spot them along the Regent's Canal and I've seen a Heron near the Camley Street Natural Park plus I've also seen turtles in the water there too which were probably once pets but grew too large.

  • 08 of 10

    Hawk & Falcons

    Peregrine Falcon
    ••• © cuatrok77

    These birds of prey are used to control pigeons in London. Feeding pigeons was once an iconic feature of Trafalgar Square but their mess is a health hazard and these larger birds are brought in to scare the pigeons away. Many London businesses use them too as pest control.

    Peregrine Falcons have been known to nest in central London and are seen around Tate Modern, St Paul's Cathedral, the Barbican and even further north at Alexandra Palace. This blogger does a good job helping the London peregrine falcon population.

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  • 09 of 10

    London Wetland Centre

    London Wetland Centre
    ••• © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

    If you want to have more of a chance of seeing something special then head to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, west London, which attracts plenty of unusual birds and is a wonderful area to spend a day out.

  • 10 of 10

    Wildlife Study

    Walrus at Horniman Museum
    ••• © Laura Porter

    If you prefer your wildlife in a museum to study then the Natural History Museum, Horniman Museum and Grant Museum are all recommended. And if you like your wildlife to be solid then the Crystal Palace dinosaurs are worth seeing too.