Today Múinteoir Ray spoke to us all about the native birdlife that we can find all around us. Our friends at Birdwatch Ireland have shared these beautiful posters to help you spot birds nearby.
Send us a picture and let us know if you see any of these on your next walk at #RTEHomeSchool. And here are some more details on the top five birds to look out for on your next walk to get you started.
Top 5 Birds to Look Out For this Summer
The robin, which is a small bird, is easy to identify with its red breast. It can be found almost anywhere for deep in the countryside to parks and gardens in the centre of towns and cities. It weighs just 18 grams, that is only about twice the weight of two one euro coins!
Not everybody knows that for a few weeks after a young robin leaving its nest it does not have a red breast. This is to make sure it is not so easy to see while it gets familiar with the world around it.
The Woodpigeon gets its name from the fact that long time ago it was usually only seen in forests but now it can be seen all over Ireland. From a distance it looks grey with a big white patch on each side of its neck. It is a big bird and when walking in grass it can look like it has no legs.
It is one of the few birds that does not have to lift its head up while drinking. Unlike almost all other birds, for the first few days after its young hatch out, it feeds them a type of milk made in its crop, a pouch found at the bottom of its throat.
The Blackbird gets its name because the adult male is all black except for its beak and a ring around its eye, which are orange. The female is dark chocolate brown with a darker beak and no orange ring around the eye. It is a member of the thrush family.
It likes to hunt for insect, grubs and worms where lots of leaves have been lying on the ground. It finds its food by looking and also by listening for worms and insects on or under the leaves. It can be seen throwing the rotting leaves left and right as it hunts for food.
The Blue Tit is a small bird with a blue cap surrounded by a white 'halo'. It likes to visit bird feeders in gardens, especially in the winter and it loves peanut. During the summer you might see one examining every leaf on a bush for caterpillars and other insects.
Each of their hungry chicks can eat up to 100 caterpillars a day and there might be as many as 10 chicks in a nest so that means the parents need to catch up to 1000 caterpillars a day! Some Blue Tits have been known to raise not one but two families in one summer.
The Jackdaw is a member of the crow family. It is one of the easiest to identify with its pale blue eye, silvery head and its small black cap. It used to like to make its nest a hole in a tree trunk but when we invented the chimney it liked that even better! Today some Jackdaws still prefer to nest in tree holes but as towns and cities grew bigger and bigger it started moving from nesting in trees to nesting in chimneys.
Because the Jackdaw is not fussy about what it eats it also discovered it could survive very well in towns and cities because there is lots of food around that we throw away which it is happy to eat.
Where they might find more birds and how to record them
The beauty about birdwatching is you can do it almost anywhere any time and you don’t really need any special equipment although a pair of binoculars will help you identify a lot more birds. You will notice that you will find different types of birds (species) living in different places (habitats).
For example if you live by the sea you will see birds like gulls and shore birds and if you live by a river or lake you will see ducks, swans and maybe even a Kingfisher. So the more places (habitats) you visit them more types of bird (species) you will see.
One thing that is good to have when birdwatching is a notebook. You can write down what you have seen and if you find a bird you don’t know you can describe it and make a sketch. You would be amazing how much information you can get in a very short time by doing this. You don’t have to be good at drawing either. Think of it as a map of the bird rather than a work of art!
With thanks to Jim Wilson, Birdwatch Ireland for kindly providing the images, posters and article information. Further information can be found in the book 'The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide.