BIRDWATCH Limerick are waxing lyrical about the rare arrival of the Scandinavian waxwing into the county.
Maura Turner, branch secretary, said they have received many reports of sightings of an unusual bird in recent weeks.
“This exotic looking bird is a waxwing and is easily identifiable by a crest on the head resembling a Jedward hairstyle and similar colouring.
“They have a pinkish-brown head with a long crest and a black coloured bandit mask around the eyes and throat.
“Their body is a pink-buff colour but the wing tips are bright yellow with red waxy tips - hence their name. They are a bit smaller than a starling with a similar flight pattern,” explained Maura.
The waxwing breeds in Scandinavia and when there are good breeding conditions the numbers are boosted. However, when this is combined with poor berry crops in their native lands larger numbers than usual flock to the UK and some arrive, usually on the east coast of Ireland.
But this time they have travelled further - to the Mid-West. A flock of 50 was seen in Corbally,
“This year’s crop of berries was very poor, even in the UK, hence we have an ‘irruption’ of waxwings appearing in gardens, parks and in some rural areas in Limerick,” said Maura.
Birdwatch member, Tom Tarpey even found an article in the Limerick Leader from 1947 entitled, A rare bird - it came from Arctic regions, the story of the waxwing.Maura says the birds are fond of apples and pears so if you cut up fruit and place it up high, to reduce the risk from predators, you may be lucky enough to attract some to your garden.
“While there are still berries around which are attracting the waxwings, these are diminishing rapidly. We are asking people to keep feeding these and other birds in general throughout the winter,” said Maura.
She says the last major influx occurred in February 2005 and advises bird watchers to keep their eyes peeled and they might be lucky enough to see this rare visitor to our shores.