List of birds of Ireland

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Atlantic puffins nest in colonies around the coast.

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Ireland. The avifauna of Ireland include a total of 466 species, of which two have been introduced by humans, 255 are rare or accidental and one occurs as both an introduced species and an accidental. Thirteen species are globally threatened. One is extinct.

Ireland has a relatively low diversity of breeding birds due to its isolation. Several species such as the tawny owl, Eurasian nuthatch and willow tit which breed in Great Britain have not been recorded. However, there are large colonies of seabirds including important populations of European storm petrels, northern gannets and roseate terns. Other notable breeding birds include corn crakes and red-billed choughs. There are no endemic species but there are endemic subspecies of white-throated dipper, coal tit and Eurasian jay.

Large numbers of wildfowl and waders winter in Ireland, attracted by its mild climate. About half the world population of Greenland white-fronted geese spend the winter there. During autumn, many migrating seabirds can be seen off the coasts including several species of skuas, shearwaters and petrels. Ireland's westerly position means that North American birds are regularly recorded in autumn.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) largely follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th edition although some names more commonly used by Irish birdwatchers are taken from the Irish Rare Birds Committee (IRBC) list. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect the Clements taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Ireland. The total includes three examples of birds that have been accepted onto the official list without being identified to species: frigatebird species, Fea's or Zino's petrel and black or white-tailed wheatear.

The total does not include species placed in Category D of the Irish list. These are species where there is doubt as to whether they have occurred in a wild state (Category D1), they have arrived by human assistance such as on board a ship (D2), they have only been recorded dead on the tideline (D3) or they are feral species whose populations may not be self-sustaining (D4).

The following tags have been used to highlight several categories, but not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not, are commonly occurring native species.

  • (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Ireland
  • (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Ireland as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
  • (E) Extirpated - a species which no longer exists in Ireland, but which exists elsewhere

Table of contents

See also        References        External links


Great northern diver, a winter visitor to coastal waters.

Order: Gaviiformes   Family: Gaviidae

Divers, also known as loons, are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Europe. They are the size of a large duck or small goose, which they somewhat resemble in shape when swimming, but to which they are completely unrelated.

Common name Binomial Status
Red-throated diver Gavia stellata
Black-throated diver Gavia arctica (A)
Great northern diver Gavia immer
White-billed diver Gavia adamsii (A)
Pacific diver Gavia pacifica (A)


Great crested grebes breed on inland lakes.

Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.

Common name Binomial Status
Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Pied-billed grebe Podilymbus podiceps (A)
Red-necked grebe Podiceps grisegena
Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus
Slavonian grebe Podiceps auritus
Black-necked grebe Podiceps nigricollis (A)


Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Diomedeidae

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophris (A)

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

Fulmars first bred in 1911 but are now widespread.

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.

Common name Binomial Status
Northern fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
Fea's petrel/Zino's petrel Pterodroma feae/Pterodroma madeira (A)
Bermuda petrel Pterodroma cahow (A)
Bulwer's petrel Bulweria bulwerii (A)
Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis
Great shearwater Ardenna gravis
Sooty shearwater Ardenna griseus
Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus
Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus
Macaronesian shearwater Puffinus baroli (A)

Storm petrels[edit]

European storm petrel, Ireland has the world's largest breeding population.

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.

Common name Binomial Status
Wilson's storm petrel Oceanites oceanicus (A)
European storm petrel Hydrobates pelagicus
Band-rumped storm petrel Oceanodroma castro (A)
Leach's storm petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa
Swinhoe's storm petrel Oceanodroma monorhis (A)

Boobies and gannets[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups are medium to large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Common name Binomial Status
Northern gannet Morus bassanus


Shags, common around the coast.

Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white and a few being colourful.

Common name Binomial Status
Double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus (A)
Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis


Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black-and-white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have coloured inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.

Bitterns, herons and egrets[edit]

Little egret, first bred in 1997 and is increasingly common.
Cattle egret, a rare vagrant.

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.

Common name Binomial Status
Grey heron Ardea cinerea
Purple heron Ardea purpurea (A)
Great egret Ardea alba (A)
Little egret Egretta garzetta
Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides (A)
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis (A)
Green heron Butorides virescens (A)
Little blue heron Egretta caerulea (A)
Black-crowned night heron Nycticorax nycticorax (A)
American bittern Botaurus lentiginosus (A)
Great bittern Botaurus stellaris (A)
Little bittern Ixobrychus minutus (A)

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Eurasian spoonbill, a rare visitor.

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.

Common name Binomial Status
Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus (A)
Eurasian spoonbill Platalea leucorodia (A)


Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory.

Common name Binomial Status
Black stork Ciconia nigra (A)
White stork Ciconia ciconia (A)

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Mute swans on Lough Leane.
Barnacle goose, a winter visitor from Greenland.
Mallard, a very common resident.
Eiders, common on northern coasts.

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.

Common name Binomial Status
Mute swan Cygnus olor
Whooper swan Cygnus cygnus
Bewick's swan Cygnus columbianus
Bean goose Anser fabalis
Pink-footed goose Anser brachyrhynchus
Greater white-fronted goose Anser albifrons
Lesser white-fronted goose Anser erythropus (A)
Greylag goose Anser anser
Snow goose Chen caerulescens (A)
Brent goose Branta bernicla
Barnacle goose Branta leucopsis
Canada goose Branta canadensis (A, I)
Cackling goose Branta hutchinsii (A)
Red-breasted goose Branta ruficollis (Cat. D1)
Ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (A)
Common shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Mandarin duck Aix galericulata (I)
Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope
American wigeon Anas americana (A)
Gadwall Anas strepera
Baikal teal Anas formosa (Cat. D1)
Green-winged teal Anas carolinensis (A)
Common teal Anas crecca
Falcated teal Anas falcata (A)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
American black duck Anas rubripes (A)
Northern pintail Anas acuta
Garganey Anas querquedula
Blue-winged teal Anas discors (A)
Northern shoveler Anas clypeata
Red-crested pochard Netta rufina (A)
Common pochard Aythya ferina
Redhead Aythya americana (A)
Ring-necked duck Aythya collaris (A)
Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca (A)
Tufted duck Aythya fuligula
Greater scaup Aythya marila
Lesser scaup Aythya affinis (A)
Common eider Somateria mollissima
King eider Somateria spectabilis (A)
Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis
Common scoter Melanitta nigra
Surf scoter Melanitta perspicillata (A)
Velvet scoter Melanitta fusca
Common goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Barrow's goldeneye Bucephala islandica (A)
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola (A)
Smew Mergellus albellus
Hooded merganser Lophodytes cucullatus (A)
Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator
Goosander Mergus merganser
Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (I)


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Common name Binomial Status
Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Hawks, kites and eagles[edit]

Hen harrier, a rare breeding bird.
Eurasian buzzard, increasing and spreading.

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.

Common name Binomial Status
European honey buzzard Pernis apivorus (A)
Red kite Milvus milvus
Black kite Milvus migrans (A)
White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (A, being reintroduced)
Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus (A)
Eurasian griffon Gyps fulvus (A)
Western marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus
Hen harrier Circus cyaneus
Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus (A)
Pallid harrier Circus macrourus (A)
Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis (A)
Eurasian buzzard Buteo buteo
Rough-legged buzzard Buteo lagopus (A)
Greater spotted eagle Clanga clanga (A)
Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos (A, being reintroduced)
Booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus (Cat. D1)


Eurasian kestrel, a common resident.

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.

Common name Binomial Status
Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni (A)
Eurasian kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus (A)
Merlin Falco columbarius
Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo (A)
Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus (A)
Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus


Red grouse, scarce resident of moors and bogs.

Order: Galliformes   Family: Tetraonidae

Grouse are game birds, similar to quails and partridges.

Common name Binomial Status
Red grouse Lagopus lagopus
Eurasian capercaillie Tetrao urogallus (E)

Pheasants and partridges[edit]

The grey partridge has seriously declined and is now very rare.

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings.

Common name Binomial Status
Red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa (Cat. D4)
Grey partridge Perdix perdix
Common quail Coturnix coturnix
Ring-necked pheasant Phasianus colchicus (I)


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Gruidae

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances".

Common name Binomial Status
Sandhill crane Grus canadensis (A)
Common crane Grus grus (A)

Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots[edit]

Corncrake, now a rare summer visitor but formerly very common.

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.

Common name Binomial Status
Water rail Rallus aquaticus
Corn crake Crex crex
Little crake Porzana parva (A)
Baillon's crake Porzana pusilla (A)
Spotted crake Porzana porzana (A)
Sora Porzana carolina (A)
Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian coot Fulica atra
American coot Fulica americana (A)
American purple gallinule Porphyrio martinicus (Cat:D3)


Order: Otidiformes   Family: Otididae

Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays.

Common name Binomial Status
Great bustard Otis tarda (A)
Little bustard Tetrax tetrax (A)


Eurasian oystercatcher, common around the coast.

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Avocets and stilts[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus (A)
Pied avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (A)


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Burhinidae

The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow-black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus (A)

Pratincoles and coursers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Glareolidae

Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards.

Common name Binomial Status
Cream-coloured courser Cursorius cursor (A)
Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola (A)
Black-winged pratincole Glareola nordmanni (A)

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

Northern lapwing, common in winter but less so in summer.
Grey plovers breed in Arctic regions.
Common ringed plover, winters in coastal areas south to Africa.

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water.

Common name Binomial Status
Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Sociable lapwing Vanellus gregarius (A)
Pacific golden plover Pluvialis fulva (A)
American golden plover Pluvialis dominica (A)
European golden plover Pluvialis apricaria
Grey plover Pluvialis squatarola
Common ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula
Semipalmated plover Charadrius semipalmatus (A)
Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius (A)
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus (A)
Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus (A)
Eurasian dotterel Charadrius morinellus (A)

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) depicted on the old fifty pence coin.
Eurasian curlew, widespread breeder with larger numbers in winter.
Turnstone, common on rocky coasts.
Pectoral sandpiper, a frequent vagrant from North America.
Red-necked phalarope, a former breeding species.

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian woodcock Scolopax rusticola
Jack snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
Great snipe Gallinago media (A)
Common snipe Gallinago gallinago
Wilson's snipe Gallinago delicata (A)
Short-billed dowitcher Limnodromus griseus (A)
Long-billed dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus (A)
Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa
Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica
Eskimo curlew Numenius borealis (A)
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata
Upland sandpiper Bartramia longicauda (A)
Spotted redshank Tringa erythropus
Common redshank Tringa totanus
Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis (A)
Common greenshank Tringa nebularia
Greater yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca (A)
Lesser yellowlegs Tringa flavipes (A)
Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Solitary sandpiper Tringa solitaria (A)
Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola
Terek sandpiper Xenus cinereus (A)
Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Spotted sandpiper Actitis macularia (A)
Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres
Great knot Calidris tenuirostris (A)
Red knot Calidris canutus
Sanderling Calidris alba
Semipalmated sandpiper Calidris pusilla (A)
Western sandpiper Calidris mauri (A)
Red-necked stint Calidris ruficollis (A)
Little stint Calidris minuta
Temminck's stint Calidris temminckii (A)
Long-toed stint Calidris subminuta (A)
Least sandpiper Calidris minutilla (A)
White-rumped sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis (A)
Baird's sandpiper Calidris bairdii (A)
Pectoral sandpiper Calidris melanotos
Sharp-tailed sandpiper Calidris acuminata (A)
Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Purple sandpiper Calidris maritima
Stilt sandpiper Calidris himantopus (A)
Broad-billed sandpiper Calidris falcinellus (A)
Buff-breasted sandpiper Calidris subruficollis (A)
Ruff Calidris pugnax
Wilson's phalarope Phalaropus tricolor (A)
Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus (A, formerly bred)
Grey phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius


Great skua, a passage migrant around the coast.

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.

Common name Binomial Status
Great skua Stercorarius skua
Pomarine skua Stercorarius pomarinus
Arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus
Long-tailed skua Stercorarius longicaudus

Gulls, terns, and skimmers[edit]

Herring gull, very common resident.
Roseate tern, a scarce summer visitor.

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls, terns, and skimmers. Gulls are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years.

Common name Binomial Status
Common gull Larus canus
Ring-billed gull Larus delawarensis
Great black-backed gull Larus marinus
Glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus
Iceland gull Larus glaucoides
Thayer's gull Larus thayeri (A)
Herring gull Larus argentatus
Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus
Yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis
American herring gull Larus smithsonianus (A)
Caspian gull Larus cachinnans (A)
Slaty-backed gull Larus schistisagus (A)
Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Bonaparte's gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia (A)
Mediterranean gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Laughing gull Leucophaeus atricilla (A)
Franklin's gull Leucophaeus pipixcan (A)
Little gull Hydrocoloeus minutus
Ivory gull Pagophila eburnea (A)
Ross's gull Rhodostethia rosea (A)
Sabine's gull Xema sabini
Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Gull-billed tern Gelochelidon nilotica (A)
Caspian tern Hydroprogne caspia (A)
Elegant tern Thalasseus elegans (A)
Lesser crested tern Thalasseus bengalensis (A)
Sandwich tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Royal tern Thalasseus maximus (Cat. D3)
Roseate tern Sterna dougallii
Common tern Sterna hirundo
Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea
Forster's tern Sterna forsteri (A)
Little tern Sternula albifrons
Bridled tern Onychoprion anaethetus (Cat. D3)
Sooty tern Onychoprion fuscatus (A)
Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybridus (A)
White-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus (A)
Black tern Chlidonias niger


Black guillemot, found along rocky coasts and around harbours and piers.

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Alcidae

Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits. However, they are not related to the penguins and differ in being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest.

Common name Binomial Status
Little auk Alle alle (A)
Guillemot Uria aalge
Brunnich's guillemot Uria lomvia (A)
Razorbill Alca torda
Great auk Pinguinus impennis (Extinct)
Black guillemot Cepphus grylle
Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica


Order: Pterocliformes   Family: Pteroclidae

Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Their legs are feathered down to the toes.

Common name Binomial Status
Pallas's sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus (A)

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Eurasian collared dove, first recorded in 1959 and now common.
Rock dove, usually lives on cliffs near the Atlantic Ocean.

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

Common name Binomial Status
Rock pigeon Columba livia
Stock dove Columba oenas
Common wood pigeon Columba palumbus
European turtle dove Streptopelia turtur
Eurasian collared dove Streptopelia decaocto
Mourning dove Zeanaida macroura (A)


Common cuckoo, a declining summer visitor.

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The Old World cuckoos are brood parasites.

Common name Binomial Status
Great spotted cuckoo Clamator glandarius (A)
Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Black-billed cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus (A)
Yellow-billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus (A)

Barn owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.

Common name Binomial Status
Barn owl Tyto alba

Typical owls[edit]

Long-eared owl, a difficult-to-see resident.

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

The typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.

Common name Binomial Status
European scops owl Otus scops (A)
Snowy owl Bubo scandiacus (A)
Little owl Athene noctua (A)
Long-eared owl Asio otus
Short-eared owl Asio flammeus
Tawny owl Strix aluco (D)


Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.

Common name Binomial Status
Common nighthawk Chordeiles minor (A)
Eurasian nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus


Common swift, a summer visitor.

Order: Apodiformes   Family: Apodidae

Swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang.

Common name Binomial Status
White-throated needletail Hirundapus caudacutus (A)
Chimney swift Chaetura pelagica (A)
Alpine swift Tachymarptis melba (A)
Common swift Apus apus
Pallid swift Apus pallidus (A)
Little swift Apus affinis (A)


Common kingfisher, seen beside rivers and lakes.

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.

Common name Binomial Status
Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Belted kingfisher Ceryle alcyon (A)


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Meropidae

The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar.

Common name Binomial Status
European bee-eater Merops apiaster (A)

Typical rollers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Coraciidae

Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not.

Common name Binomial Status
European roller Coracias garrulus (A)


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Upupidae

Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head.

Common name Binomial Status
Hoopoe Upupa epops

Woodpeckers and allies[edit]

Great spotted woodpecker, an occasional visitor which may have bred recently.

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian wryneck Jynx torquilla (A)
Yellow-bellied sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius (A)
Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Northern flicker Colaptes auratus (Cat.D2)
European green woodpecker Picus viridis (A)

Tyrant flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tyrannidae

Common name Binomial Status
Eastern kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus (A)


Eurasian skylark, a common resident.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds.

Common name Binomial Status
Greater short-toed lark Calandrella brachydactyla (A)
Wood lark Lullula arborea (A)
Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis
Shore lark Eremophila alpestris (A)

Swallows and martins[edit]

Barn swallow, a very common summer visitor.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.

Common name Binomial Status
Purple martin Progne subis (Cat. D1)
Sand martin Riparia riparia
American cliff swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota (A)
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped swallow Cecropis daurica (A)
Common house martin Delichon urbicum

Wagtails and pipits[edit]

Pied wagtail, a common and widespread resident.
Grey wagtail is slightly larger than pied wagtail.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae

Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country.

Common name Binomial Status
Pied wagtail Motacilla alba
Citrine wagtail Motacilla citreola (A)
Western yellow wagtail Motacilla flava
Grey wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Richard's pipit Anthus richardi (A)
Tawny pipit Anthus campestris (A)
Tree pipit Anthus trivialis
Olive-backed pipit Anthus hodgsoni (A)
Pechora pipit Anthus gustavi (A)
Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis
Red-throated pipit Anthus cervinus (A)
Rock pipit Anthus petrosus
Water pipit Anthus spinoletta (A)
Buff-bellied pipit Anthus rubescens (A)


Goldcrest, Ireland's smallest bird.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Regulidae

The kinglets, also called crests, are a small group of birds often included in the Old World warblers, but frequently given family status because they also resemble the titmice.

Common name Binomial Status
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Common firecrest Regulus ignicapillus
Ruby-crowned kinglet Regulus calendula (A)


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of birds with soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.

Common name Binomial Status
Bohemian waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
Cedar waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum (A)


White-throated dipper, found along fast-flowing streams and rivers.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cinclidae

Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements.

Common name Binomial Status
White-throated dipper Cinclus cinclus


Eurasian wren, "hunting the wren" is an old tradition in Ireland.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Troglodytidae

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Mockingbirds and thrashers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mimidae

The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, especially their ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. Their colouring tends towards dull-greys and browns.

Common name Binomial Status
Grey catbird Dumetella carolinensis (A)


Dunnock, a very common resident.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Prunellidae

The accentors are in the only bird family, Prunellidae, which is completely endemic to the Palearctic. They are small, fairly drab species superficially similar to sparrows.

Common name Binomial Status
Dunnock Prunella modularis

Thrushes and allies[edit]

Ring ouzel, a rare summer visitor to high mountains.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.

Common name Binomial Status
Siberian thrush Geokichla sibirica (A)
White's thrush Zoothera dauma (A)
Grey-cheeked thrush Catharus minimus (A)
Swainson's thrush Catharus ustulatus (A)
Hermit thrush Catharus guttatus (A)
Ring ouzel Turdus torquatus
Eurasian blackbird Turdus merula
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Song thrush Turdus philomelos
Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus
American robin Turdus migratorius (A)

Cisticolas and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cisticolidae

The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub.

Common name Binomial Status
Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis (A)

Cettid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cettiidae

Common name Binomial Status
Cetti's warbler Cettia cetti (A)

Locustellid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Locustellidae

Common name Binomial Status
Common grasshopper warbler Locustella naevia
Pallas's grasshopper warbler Locustella certhiola (A)
Savi's warbler Locustella luscinioides (A)

Acrocephalidid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Acrocephalidae

Common name Binomial Status
Aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola (A)
Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Paddyfield warbler Acrocephalus agricola (A)
Blyth's reed warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum (A)
Eurasian reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Marsh warbler Acrocephalus palustris (A)
Great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus (A)
Booted warbler Iduna caligata (A)
Sykes's warbler Iduna rama (A)
Eastern olivaceous warbler Iduna pallida (A)
Melodious warbler Hippolais polyglotta (A)
Icterine warbler Hippolais icterina (A)

Phylloscopid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Phylloscopidae

Common name Binomial Status
Willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Common chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Western Bonelli's warbler Phylloscopus bonelli (A)
Wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Dusky warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus (A)
Radde's warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi (A)
Pallas's leaf warbler Phylloscopus proregulus (A)
Yellow-browed warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
Hume's leaf warbler Phylloscopus humei (A)
Arctic warbler Phylloscopus borealis (A)
Greenish warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides (A)

Old World warblers[edit]

Eurasian blackcap, most places in Ireland have residents.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sylviidae

The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Garden warbler Sylvia borin
Greater whitethroat Sylvia communis
Lesser whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Barred warbler Sylvia nisoria (A)
Subalpine warbler Sylvia cantillans (A)
Sardinian warbler Sylvia melanocephala (A)
Dartford warbler Sylvia undata (A)

Old World flycatchers and chats[edit]

Spotted flycatcher, one of the last summer visitors to arrive.
European robin, a common and familiar resident.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae

Old World flycatchers and chats are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.

Common name Binomial Status
Common rock thrush Monticola saxatilis (A)
Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis (A)
Red-breasted flycatcher Ficedula parva (A)
European robin Erithacus rubecula
Thrush nightingale Luscinia luscinia (A)
Common nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos (A)
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica (A)
Rufous-tailed scrub robin Cercotrichas galactotes (A)
Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus (A)
Black redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
European stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Black wheatear/White-tailed wheatear Oenanthe leucura/Oenanthe leucopyga (A)
Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Pied wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka (A)
Black-eared wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (A)
Desert wheatear Oenanthe deserti (A)
Isabelline wheatear Oenanthe isabellina (A)

Bearded reedling[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Panuridae

Common name Binomial Status
Bearded reedling Panurus biarmicus (A)

Long-tailed tits[edit]

Long-tailed tit, a common resident.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Aegithalidae

Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet which includes insects. There are about 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ireland.

Common name Binomial Status
Long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus


Coal tit, common in woods and gardens.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Paridae

The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects.

Common name Binomial Status
Marsh tit Poecile palustris (A)
Coal tit Periparus ater
Great tit Parus major
Eurasian blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus


Eurasian treecreeper, an inconspicuous resident.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Certhiidae

Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian treecreeper Certhia familiaris

Old World orioles[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Oriolidae

The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian golden oriole Oriolus oriolus (A)


Red-backed shrike, a rare passage migrant.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae

Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey.

Common name Binomial Status
Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio
Isabelline shrike Lanius isabellinus (A)
Brown shrike Lanius cristatus (A)
Northern shrike Lanius excubitor
Lesser grey shrike Lanius minor (A)
Woodchat shrike Lanius senator (A)

Crows, jays, ravens and magpies[edit]

Hooded crow, a common resident in many habitats.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jackdaws, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian jay Garrulus glandarius
Eurasian magpie Pica pica
Red-billed chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Eurasian jackdaw Corvus monedula
House crow Corvus splendens (Cat.D2)
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Carrion crow Corvus corone
Common raven Corvus corax
Hooded crow Corvus cornix


European starling, a common breeding bird with more arriving in winter.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.

Common name Binomial Status
Rosy starling Pastor roseus (A)
European starling Sturnus vulgaris


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in colour and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills.

Common name Binomial Status
Philadelphia vireo Vireo philadelphicus (A)
Red-eyed vireo Vireo olivaceus (A)

New World warblers[edit]

Blue-winged warbler, one on Cape Clear Island in 2000 was the first European record of this North American bird.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Parulidae

The New World warblers are a group of small, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.

Common name Binomial Status
Blue-winged warbler Vermivora pinus (A)
Northern parula Setophaga americana (A)
Yellow warbler Setophaga petechia (A)
Yellow-rumped warbler Setophaga coronata (A)
Blackpoll warbler Setophaga striata (A)
American redstart Setophaga ruticilla (A)
Black-and-white warbler Mniotilta varia (A)
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla (A)
Northern waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis (A)
Common yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas (A)
Canada warbler Cardellina canadensis (A)

Buntings and New World sparrows[edit]

Yellowhammer, a declining resident.
Snow bunting, small numbers occur in autumn and winter.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Emberizidae

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns.

Common name Binomial Status
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Pine bunting Emberiza leucocephalos (A)
Cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus (A)
Ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana (A)
Little bunting Emberiza pusilla (A)
Rustic bunting Emberiza rustica (A)
Yellow-breasted bunting Emberiza aureola (A)
Black-headed bunting Emberiza melanocephala (A)
Red-headed bunting Emberiza bruniceps (Cat.D1)
Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Corn bunting Emberiza calandra (A, formerly bred)
Fox sparrow Passerella iliaca (A)
White-crowned sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys (A)
White-throated sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis (A)
Dark-eyed junco Junco hyemalis (A)

Longspurs and snow buntings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Calcariidae

Common name Binomial Status
Lapland bunting Calcarius lapponicus
Snow bunting Plectrophenax nivalis

Cardinals and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cardinalidae

The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages.

Common name Binomial Status
Rose-breasted grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus (A)
Indigo bunting Passerina cyanea (A)
Scarlet tanager Piranga olivacea (A)

Troupials and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteridae

The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as the predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.

Common name Binomial Status
Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus (A)
Baltimore oriole Icterus galbula (A)


Common chaffinch, a very common resident.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have twelve tail feathers and nine primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.

Common name Binomial Status
Common chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
Common rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus (A)
Common crossbill Loxia curvirostra
Two-barred crossbill Loxia leucoptera (A)
European greenfinch Chloris chloris
Common redpoll Acanthis flammea
Arctic redpoll Acanthis hornemanni (A)
Eurasian siskin Spinus spinus
American goldfinch Spinus tristis (Cat. D1)
European goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Twite Linaria flavirostris
Common linnet Linaria cannabina
European serin Serinus serinus (A)
Eurasian bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes (A)


House sparrow, common around human habitation.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There are about 35 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ireland.

Common name Binomial Status
House sparrow Passer domesticus
Eurasian tree sparrow Passer montanus

See also[edit]


  • Clements, James F. (2000). Birds of the World: a Checklist. Cornell University Press. p. 880. ISBN 0-934797-16-1. 
  • Dempsey, Eric & Michael O'Clery (1995) Pocket Guide to the Common Birds of Ireland, Gill & Macmillan Ltd, Dublin.
  • Dempsey, Eric & Michael O'Clery (2007) Finding Birds in Ireland: the complete guide, Gill & Macmillan Ltd, Dublin.
  • Irish Rare Birds Committee (2007) The Irish List. Accessed 6 April 2009.
  • Irish Rare Birds Committee (2009) Irish Rare Bird Report 2007. Accessed 31 October 2009.
  • Lepage, Denis. "Checklist of birds of Ireland". Bird Checklists of the World. Avibase. Retrieved 26 April 2007. 

External links[edit]