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Wicklow Mountains National Park

Threatened Birds

The following birds are regarded as being of high conservation importance within the Park either because they have recently suffered a population decline or are very rare:



Hen Harrier Immature conifer plantations, upland heath and bog
Peregrine FalconUpland areas
MerlinImmature conifer plantations, upland heath and bog
Red GrouseHeath and blanket bog
Ring OuzelScree slopes
RedstartMature deciduous woodland
Wood WarblerMature deciduous woodland
GoosanderRivers and lakes bordered by mature woodland

Conservation strategies for these species concentrate on habitat protection, and if necessary, habitat management. Powerscourt Paddock near Djouce Mountain is now being actively managed for Red Grouse, with a ten year rotational burning plan. For one species, the Goosander, nestboxes have been put in place and are proving very successful. This species has suitable habitat within the Park, along the Avonmore River and around Glendalough, but the scarcity of mature trees with suitable nesting holes was limiting the population.

The populations of all these species are monitored, and their breeding status, nest sites, and feeding sites noted. Protection of nest sites is particularly important, and helicopter pilots are forbidden to fly over Peregrine Falcon nest sites during the breeding season, and climbers are asked to avoid certain cliffs.

 Birds Directive and Red Data Book

Nine bird species, which are either resident or visit the Park, are either listed in the Red Data Book or the Birds Directive. Eight are listed in the Red Data Book, and seven are given legal protection under the Birds Directive.

The Birds Directive gives different levels of protection to different species. The species are in lists known as Annexes according to the level of protection they are given. Some species can appear on more than one Annex. Annex I species require the greatest protection and must have SPAs (Special Protection Areas) set aside for them. Of the birds which can occur in the Park the Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Whooper Swan, Golden Plover, and Osprey are all Annex I species. Annex II species (Golden Plover and Goosander) may be hunted under certain circumstances (outside of the Park). Annex III species (Golden Plover) require research to be carried out on them.


Irish Red Data Book

Birds Directive

Hen Harrier Endangered Annex 1
Peregrine Falcon Internationally Important Annex 1
Merlin Rare Annex 1
Osprey - Annex 1
Whooper Swan Internationally Important Annex 1
Ring Ouzel Rare -
Golden Plover Vulnerable Annex I, II, III
Wood Warbler Rare -
Goosander Rare Annex II

As you can see this list is different to the one describing the birds of conservation importance within the Park. The numbers of Osprey, Whooper Swan, and Golden Plover are so low in the Park as to negate their appearing on the list. They are considered to be only occasional visitors at present. In fact, the Osprey does not (yet) breed in Ireland, so a SPA has not been set up especially for it. Needless to say, visiting Ospreys receive the highest protection. The status of the Red Grouse has changed since the Birds Directive was established, and it is now considered at risk in Ireland. The Redstart is not considered threatened on a global scale, but is so rare in Ireland that it requires protection. Its stronghold is within the woods of the Park.

Peregrine Falcon chicks
Peregrine Chicks..»

Birds Directive

For more details on the Birds Directive and Special Protection Areas (SPA) see our page on Designations