Irish starlings meet migrants for
IRELAND is among only a
few countries in north western Europe where starling
numbers are thriving, according to the latest annual
Garden Bird Survey.
The small birds, famed for their spectacular air
displays known as a ‘murmurations’, appeared in
almost 80 per cent of Irish gardens last winter.
This marked a return to the Top 10 for the
fascinating aerobatic bird with its speckled and
Top of the league was the red-breasted robin for the
ninth year running, closely followed by the
blackbird and blue tit.
The popular trio were recorded in over 96 per cent
of Irish gardens.
BirdWatch Ireland Garden Bird Survey
2018/2019 - The Robin was number one in the top 10
garden birds and the Starling was 10th. Photo B
The BirdWatch Ireland
Garden Bird Survey 2018/2019 reveals that many
common birds appeared in lower proportions in
domestic gardens last year.
This was due to the milder conditions compared to
the previous winter and meant birds were better able
to source their food in the wild.
BirdWatch Ireland Garden Bird Survey co-ordinator
Brian Burke said a record 1,600 households took part
in the latest survey.
This represented the highest number of participants
in the survey’s history and coincided with its 30th
A notable returnee to the Top 10 was the starling,
at tenth place and its best ranking in eight years.
“It would be easy to take starlings for granted but
Ireland is one of the few countries in north-west
Europe where their numbers are doing well,” said Mr
“Each winter evening your garden starlings join up
with hundreds and thousands of starlings from tens
of kilometres around and head to a local roost,
often a reedbed or woodland, where they perform the
mesmerising ‘murmurations’ that they are famous
for,” said Mr Burke.
Meanwhile, BirdWatch Ireland public relations
officer Niall Hatch said the starling murmurations
witnessed in Ireland also included migrant starlings
from other countries.
“As far as we know, the starlings that actually
breed in Ireland during the summer tend to stay
here, but in the Autumn they are joined by an influx
of starlings that migrate here from northern Europe,
and specially from the Baltic Sea region, for the
winter,” he said.
Among the reasons for Ireland’s strong starling
numbers, are its pasture-dominated landscape and
relatively damp summers.
This gives the birds good access to their favourite
food source, the crane fly larvae or
If you would like to participate in the Garden Bird
Survey 2019/2020, starting next month, please visit
Top 10 garden birds 2018/2019
3. Blue tit
6. Great tit
7. House sparrow
9. Coal tit