Mooney Goes Wild, Sunday February 7th 2016

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Caring For Wild Animals

Please note that many species of mammals, birds, invertebrates etc... are protected under law and that, even with the best of intentions, only someone holding a relevant licence from the National Parks & Wildlife Service should attempt the care of these animals.  For full details, please click here to read the NPWS Checklist of protected & rare species in Ireland.  If you are concerned about a wild animal, please contact your local wildlife ranger - click here for details.

Events & Listings

Click here for a full list of events taking place around the country, and movies currently on release, which might be of interest to wildlife lovers!

Mooney Goes Wild: All About Crows

The crow is a bird that is loved and loathed in equal measure.  Collectively known as a murder of crows, they are birds strongly associated with death.  In Hindusim, crows are believed to be ancient ancestors, Ovid saw the crow as a bringer of rain, and here in Ireland, the banshee often took the form of a crow. So what's the real deal with these corvids?  Derek Mooney presents a special programme from the Mooney Goes Wild team called All About Crows...

In this programme, Derek travels to Leap in County Cork, to learn firsthand about their Scarecrow Festival; there, he talks to Kathleen Woumans and Rita Ryan, from the Leap Development Committee...

Kathleen Woumans, Leap Development Committee

Rita Ryan, Leap Development Committee

One of the scarecrows in Leap

To see more of the scarecrows, click here to read this Irish Examiner article.

From Leap, Derek travelled to Kilbeggan, in Co. Westmeath, where he met Richard Collins and his family, who were observing a battle between crows and starlings.

Derek then met Gabrielle Davidson, a post-doctoral researcher at University College Cork, who studies cognition in birds, especially corvids...

Gabrielle Davidson; photo courtesy of

A raven is another member of the crow family.  It’s long been known how intelligent ravens are, and just how sophisticated their behaviour can be - but new research reveals that ravens are ruthless social climbers, sabotaging bonding between other birds who may become future competitors.  The research has been carried out by a team at the University of Vienna’s Department of Cognitive Biology. Dr. Jorg Massen is a senior scientist and member of that team, and he tells Derek more about his research...

Dr. Jorg Massen; photo courtesy of

So what are the physical characteristics of crows? Derek met up with Dr. Brendan Kavanagh, Head of Biology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, to find out more...

Terry Flanagan is our reporter here on Mooney Goes Wild; he travelled to the Murrough beach in County Wicklow, just outside of Wicklow Town, to meet Dr. Steve Newton from BirdWatch Ireland to observe a crow roost.  Another major roost is in Castleconnell in County Limerick, where Derek met up with Paul Moroney.

Finally, to learn more about the crow's depiction in art and culture, Derek and Richard Collins visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, to find out from museum curator Nienke Bakker about Vincent Van Gogh's celebrated painting Wheatfield With Crows... To find out more about the painting and view it in close detail, click here to visit the website of the museum.

Richard Collins with Nienke Bakker in front of Wheatfield With Crows by Van Gogh

About 'Wheatfield With Crows'

Hedgerows: It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.

UPDATE: February 29th 2016 - Press Release From BirdWatch Ireland:

Putting the record straight: Dates for burning and hedge-cutting have NOT changed

BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest conservation charity, is very concerned about misinformation that is currently circulating regarding the dates within which the burning of vegetation and cutting of hedges is permitted.  It would like to remind landowners that all burning and cutting must cease on 29th February this year and that burning and cutting remains prohibited from 1st March to 31st August.

Despite attempts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., to change the laws regulating these dates by introducing the Heritage Bill 2016 earlier this year, it is important to note that the proposed date changes were ultimately NOT made.  This is because the bill failed to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas before the recent dissolution of the Dáil in advance of the general election.

The laws in place governing the dates for hedge-cutting and upland burning therefore remain unchanged. The period within which cutting and burning is prohibited are set down in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended in 2000), which states that:

(a) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
(b) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection (above).

The existing law provides exemptions for road safety and other circumstances and should be read carefully to ensure compliance.

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act exists to protect nesting birds. Many of our upland bird species are in decline and are in danger of extinction in Ireland; amongst them is the Curlew, which has declined by 80%. Many birds which nest in hedgerows into August are also in serious decline, including the endangered Yellowhammer. The changes to the cutting and burning dates which had been proposed in the now-defunct Heritage Bill 2016 would have caused serious impacts to these birds. A petition launched by BirdWatch Ireland in conjunction with several other national conservation organisations to stop these changes attracted more than 16,200 signatures and rising.

BirdWatch Ireland would also like to advise members of the public that if they see hedges being cut or fires in the uplands on or after 1st March, such activity could be illegal.  In such cases, we would encourage people to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service ( to report such activity.

BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the demise of the Heritage Bill 2016 and sincerely hopes that any future administration will consider the importance of Ireland’s natural heritage and will not attempt to reintroduce such a flawed and damaging piece of legislation.

To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.


Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.

If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit


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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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