Birdwatch reports influx of waxwings


Birdwatch Ireland has reported an unusual influx of waxwings to Ireland this winter with sightings reported across the country.

Noted for their greyish-brown plumage, crested heads and waxy red wing tips, the birds are irregular winter visitors here.

They migrate to Ireland from remote forests in Scandinavia and Siberia, and are typically seen in flocks in city gardens and in the countryside.

In the winter, they feed exclusively on berries, eating three times their body weight every day.

Irish ornithologists believe the recent influx of waxwings may have been prompted by a combination of a good breeding year, boosting bird numbers, and the failure of the berry crop in the birds’ Scandinavian habitat.

With food scarce, large numbers of waxwings have started arriving in Ireland uncharacteristically early in the winter and in greater numbers.

"This winter has been exceptional for the number of waxwings reported throughout the country," Birdwatch Ireland said in its latest eWings magazine.

"The first sighting this winter was of 25 on Tory Island, Co Donegal on 29th October, and increasing numbers were noted all along the west coast in the following weeks."

“By the end of November, waxwings had been seen in all counties, with flocks of more than 50 birds noted in Antrim, Dublin and Wicklow.

"To date, the highest count was of at least 400 waxwings seen roosting in Lucan, Co Dublin in mid-December."