Robin still top of the tree
THE robin has retained
its position as Ireland's top garden bird, according
to the annual BirdWatch survey.
The red-breasted Christmas favourite, was recorded
in almost all Irish gardens (99.8%) surveyed in the
three months to February 2016.
This was the sixth season the feisty little species
came top of the tree.
It was followed on the league table by the
blackbird, which was recorded in 99.3% of gardens,
retaining its position at number two.
The third most common visitor to our backyards was
the blue tit (98.1%) followed by the chaffinch
(95.3%); the great tit (95.1%); the coal tit
(92.4%); magpie (91.9%) and goldfinch (86.5%).
One of the biggest surprises for the bird charity
was the return of the greenfinch (84%) to the top
ten. This followed years of decline due to the
pervasive trichomoniasis disease.
The top ten was completed by the house sparrow,
recorded in 83.3% of gardens.
The goldfinch's position at number eight was an
all-time high for one of Ireland's most colourful
garden birds, possibly due to the increasing number
of birdfeeders in domestic gardens.
The “standout predator” of last winter’s survey,
meanwhile, was the sparrowhawk, which was seen in
some 40% - a record high - of Irish gardens.
surveyor Oran O'Sullivan said more than 5,000 Irish
and UK households also took part in a
goldfinch-specific survey last winter undertaken by
the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
The results suggest that the growing numbers of
goldfinch visitors may be the result of birdfeed
being left out by householders.
"The preliminary results of the BTO feeding survey
revealed that goldfinches appear to prefer feeding
on the supplementary food that we provide, rather
than the natural foods available in gardens.
Sunflower hearts were overwhelmingly the preferred
option with Nyjer seed coming second," Mr O'Sullivan
told the latest edition of e-wings magazine.
One respondent in
Santry, Dublin, seemed to confirm these findings,
noting she was "thrilled" one day to see a flock of
40 goldfinches feeding on sunflower hearts.
Meanwhile, the Irish Garden Bird Survey 2016/2017
begins on Monday, December 5. To sign up, visit
Top 20 Irish garden birds 2015/2016
3. Blue tit
5. Great tit
6. Coal tit
10. House sparrow
16. Song thrush
18. Collared dove
20. Hooded crow