Home History Development Today NEWS 2011 News 2010 Links silver hill

Have You Seen the WAXWINGS?


‘This morning as I pulled back the curtains I noticed some unusual birds on our crab apple trees. I saw that they were about starling size but what drew my attention was a large crest on the head. When the light improved this vision of exotic birds gracing my garden revealed themselves to be Waxwings.

These birds hail from the far North and breed high up in the pine trees in the coniferous belt in Scandinavia and Siberia. Some years they move in large flocks southwards into Western Europe. This is one such year and over 6,000 have been spotted in Scotland.

Waxwing is starling-sized, reddish buff in colour with a large crown crest, a black bib and black eyemask with yellow and white on the wing and yellow wing tip’.

I received this account above and photos from Pat McKenna, Emy, on Friday March 4th.


Some info for you - The waxwing feeds on red berries mainly and the orchards of Armagh are always an attraction for them.  However any garden or hedge with a red berried tree could have a visit from them. There are huge numbers of them in Scandinavia and Siberia and some years there is a food scarcity for them there and they are forced to come south looking for food. They tend to arrive in a big flock, devour the berries and move on. They flit about very quickly and then they are on to pastures new.  The cold weather we have been having has made it possible for them to come further south than usual though flocks have been spotted in Cork in recent years.

Their visit to Ireland could be a good omen for our Eurovision Song Contest this year as their large Crest standing erect on their foreheads would remind one of Jedward. That was the first thing to enter Pat McKenna’s head when he saw them and he listened carefully to see if the birds could sing but was unable to ‘name that tune’.

The arrival of the waxwing is noted by birdwatchers all over Ireland and UK and nature lovers are always on the look-out for these strange and beautiful birds. Well done to Pat for spotting them. Indeed if you are a nature lover and would like to learn more about wildlife and the natural environment watch out for a big event being planned by Donagh  Development Association for May 8th.  This promises to be a wonderful experience for young and old and will be of great relevance to a wide range of interests. We will bring you more info on this as it comes to hand.