Beautiful Tropical Birds Visit Wicklow

In January there were reports of beautiful tropical wading birds called Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) having somehow arrived in Ireland. Three of them found their way to the East Coast Nature Reserve on the Wicklow Coast and have been the focus of huge attention, the area becoming almost a pilgrimage site. And, most remarkably, they don’t shun the attention at all. They are not scared of people.

They are very dark birds, kind of like a choclate brown combined with shimmering dark purple. They have long beaks which they use to probe the boggy ground for insects.

What everybody is wondering is if they are going to stay in Ireland, like the Little Egret did in the 1990s. They are found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia and Australasia, but in the mid-19th century Glossy Ibises flew across the Atlantic to Brazil and have since colonised much of the Americas. Could they make a permanent colony here too, despite our cold conditions? We’ll know soon enough.

Here is a video I made about them, easily the most exciting nature event in Ireland, and Wicklow, in a few years:

2 thoughts on “Beautiful Tropical Birds Visit Wicklow”

  1. Hi Sam, I was wondering if you had any advice for protecting birds in this weather? I’ve noticed a number of smaller birds that seem to be struggling through it and wondered if you had any tips.

    I wonder how those poor ibises are doing now. Any updates?

  2. Hi Don,

    I think the best thing to do is to keep putting food out, and a friend of mine in England has being putting warm water into bird baths so they can drink – dehydration is a big problem during snowy conditions, especially when the air is so unusually cold and dry for Ireland. Thanks for your comment!

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