top of page
British Birds

Common British Birds A Pocket Book by Wilfred Willett & Charles A. Hall


A Pocket Book of Common British Birds by Wilfred Willett & Charles A. Hall

Flyleaf notes.

Mr Willett has extensively revised and enlarged the previous edition of this Pocket-Book, and has divided it into two volumes: this book and its companion A Pocket-Book of Lesser-known British Birds, each containing 47 full page illustrations in colour. Although each bird is described quite briefly, yet the author has drawn on his great experience as a bird watcher to cover the essential points and also the many small and interesting peculiarities by which birds are identified. Birds which are easily confused such s Rooks and Crows, House and Tree Sparrows, are grouped together and compared.”

Edition: Reprint 1962.  Rarer hardback copy with a dust jacket.

Earlier reprint 1956. Previously published as  A Pocket-Book of British Birds. Revised, enlarged and published in 1952 in two parts; A Pocket Book of Common British Birds and A Pocket-Book of Lesser-Known British Birds.

Published by Adam & Charles Black, 4,5,& 6 Soho Square, London W1.

Size: 17cm x 13.5 cm

Number of pages:  93 Pages

Illustrations: 47 full page plates in colour

Table of Contents:  . 

Information and full colour images of 58 species of Common British Birds as first found and identified in 1950s.  How many can be identified today as the same?

Accentor, Hedge, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Crow Carrion & Hooded, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dove Stock & ring, Dove turtle, Flycatcher Pied & Spotted, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Gulls Black-headed, Common, Great Black-Backed, Herring & Lesser Black-Backed, Hawk Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, kestrel, kingfisher, Lapwing, Linnet, Magpie, Martin House & Sand, Moorhen, Nightingale, Owl Barn & Little & Tawny, Partridge Common & Red-Legged, Pigeon Wood, Pipit Meadow & Tree, Plover Ringed, Redshank Common & spotted, Robin, Rook, Skylark, Sparrow Hedge, House & Tree, Sparrow Hawk, Starling, Swallow, Swift, Thrush Mistle & song, tit blue, Great & long-Tailed, Coal, Marsh and Willow, Wagtail Pied, Whimbrel, Whitethroat & Lesser, Woodlark, Wren Willow, Yellow Bunting (Yellow Hammer)


Book – What is it about

The birds selected for description are for the most part the common everyday birds that everyone can see during a walk in the country or by the sea. There are also sixteen other birds described because of their close affinity o ones depicted on the coloured plates. It sometimes happens that one of such a pair may not be quite so common, but describing the two birds should help in identification of both.

The classification has been bought in line with that used in The Handbook of British Birds. The sequence and also the specific name of particular bird, is the work of a special committee of the British Ornithological union. To follow one recognized authority in this matter is the only way to prevent confusion, for the scientific names of birds is recognized internationally.

The first Latin name is the generic name, signifying to what genus  the bird belongs; the second Latin name denotes the particular species of that genus. Thus our Goldfinch is Carduelis carduelis, and also because our bird has slight colour differences from the continental Goldfinch, there is added a third name Britannica. In brackets after the Latin name is the name , usually abbreviated, of the person who first accurately described the bird and gave it this name. Linnaeus (1707-1787) classified the animal kingdom in this way and it is on his system that all classification is still based.

The short descriptions of the birds note the distinctive features in the plumage ad the bird’s actions, which gives the greatest help in identification. Where a bird breeds in this country a brief description is also given of its nest and eggs. In this way it is hoped to meet the need for an inexpensive, compact book for those who have to travel ‘light’ on the holidays in the countryside, but want to be able to identify the many birds they see.”


Biography of Author:

Wilfred Leslie Willett was born on 5th Oct 1890 in Croydon, Surrey, and lived initially at 84 Grome Road. He was educated as a naturalist at Trinity College, Cambridge.  He was a Second Lieutenant with the London Rifles during World War One, and was mentioned in despatches regarding an instance on 13th December 1914 – just five weeks after he has been delivered to Flanders – when despite himself being severely wounded in the head since metal helmets had not been issued to soldiers at this early point in the war – he climbed out of the trenches to attempt to assist an injured man, a Sergeant Moore who was trapped in No Man's Land after having been hit by a sniper. Wilfred Willetts must be one of very few Communists to have ever received a citation from Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for War, for "gallant and distinguished conduct in the field"; but he treasured more a letter from the soldier for whom he risked his life!   To find out more about the life of Wilfred Willetts visit



Dust Jacket:  Clean with excellent colouring. Slight rubbing and slight tearing to extreme outer edges. Wear on the edges of the spine. Not price clipped.  Overall, a very good, clean dust jacket.

Boards:   Slight age-related wear on bright clean green boards with titles and lettering in a deep red

Binding: Tight

Spine: Slight wear on edges.

Pages.  All pages complete, bright and clean.  Frontispiece is very good. Front and rear free endpapers age toned. A very good book.

Book Lovers Guides offers you a selection of rarer books, those increasingly difficult to find, with few or no copies available on the internet.  Books, pamphlets and magazines are pre-owned and pre-loved showing some signs of use. Dust Jackets are graded separately. Photos are included to help you judge the condition.

    bottom of page