Happy World Wildlife Day 2021!

Each year on World Wildlife Day we celebrate a different aspect of wildlife. This year we’re celebrating forest-based livelihoods, and the forest-dwelling species that these habitats sustain. Native forests and woodlands in Ireland only account for about 2% of the country’s land area, but play a very important role in supporting protected species. Bats, bees, butterflies and birds are only some of the groups whom forests provide a home for. Today we’ll be discussing the latter of these species and looking into how birds have adapted to live in Ireland’s native woodlands.

Ireland has seven native woodland habitat types, according to Fossitt’s ‘A Guide to Habitats in Ireland’, these different habitats are of great ecological and environmental value. Birds are a very important aspect to these woodland habitats, they act as predators, scavengers and prey. Within this article we’ll be looking at different bird species associated with woodlands and share some easy identification facts!

Jay (Garrulus glandarius), also known as Scréachóg or Scréachóg choille. Photo By Conor Rowland

The Jay (Garrulus glandarius), also known as Scréachóg or Scréachóg choille in Irish, is one of our best-known woodland species. These birds truly are the most colourful members of the crow family, but unlike their crow cousins are surprisingly difficult to see. Jays are often described as shy and longing for privacy as they fly from tree to tree.

  • Jays have a vibrant blue and black striped patch of feathers on their flank allowing the species to stand out from all others in the crow family!
  • Jays often forget about acorns which they have cached, under leaves and in crevices, which can lead to some interesting finds. Its nice to think that the acorns they do forget about have the chance of growing into a mighty oak!
  • It is thought that jays can store up to 5,000 acorns during a season!
  • Jays can be quite noisy, especially when flying from tree to tree. Their signature harsh “Aaacckk – Aaacckk” call is frightening and mysterious when heard first.
  • The courtship practices of Jays include a male presenting offerings of food to a female and chasing.
  • Jay’s beaks are medium sized, powerful tools which help them to feed on nuts, seeds, insects, small mammals and nestlings of other species.
Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) Rí Rua. Photo by Conor Rowlands

Chaffinches are vibrant little birds which can be easily overlooked when out and about. Their scientific name is Fringilla coelebs and in Irish they are Rí Rua meaning Red King, possibly due to the males red breast and grey crown-like head.

  • The chaffinch is one of the most widespread bird species in Ireland.
  • You’ll know a chaffinch when you see it from its white wing bands, these bands running across the ring are a particularly good diagnostic feature of the species.
  • The female and male chaffinches have very different plumages, with the female (unfortunately) being a lot drabber than the opposite sex.
  • Male chaffinches have a vibrant ruby breast with grey head and pale rump. The female is somewhat similar with the grey continuing down to her rump.
  • Chaffinches have short chunky beaks for eating insects and seeds.
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris). Photo by Conor Rowlands

Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), also known as a Snag in Irish, are small, active birds who walk up and down tree trunks in search of insects to feed on. These amazing little birds are very hard to see, but once you find one, you’ll find them all!

Treecreepers have a long slender downward curving beak which they use to search beneath peeling bark, moss and lichen on the face of tree trunks in order to search for food.

Treecreepers talons are very long and they use this feature to their advantage when gripping onto the rough bank of a tree.

The treecreepers call is very high pitched and consists of several notes in very quick succession.

Remember, if you see any birds or other wildlife during your spring walks over the next few months, don’t forget to identify the species and submit your observation records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre!

#WorldWildlifeDay2021 #Biodiversity #Ireland #GiveNatureAChance #CorkNatureNetwork

 

Written by Luke Myers

 

Sources and Info

https://www.wildlifeday.org/#:~:text=On%20March%203%202021%2C%20World,and%20the%20ecosystems%20they%20sustain%2C

https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/Woodlands%20booklet.pdf

https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Guide_to_Habitats.pdf

http://www.woodlandsofireland.com/sites/default/files/WoI%20NW%20Strategy%20Final(24July16%20LoRes%20for%20webpage).pdf