Belfast Telegraph

Bird lovers overjoyed as woodpeckers return

Bird watchers have reported that woodpeckers have finally settled in Ireland after an absence of centuries.

A few pairs were spotted in 2009 but the doubling of their numbers to 15 woodpecker couples this year confirms their status as Ireland's newest bird species.

The bird is common across Europe and North Africa but experts have remained baffled at its absence here, until now.

There has been a flurry of excitement among enthusiasts in Ireland and DNA tests have been carried out on newly arrived woodpeckers to decipher their origin.

The woodpeckers generally use their sharp beaks to drill holes in trees, before inserting their long, sticky tongues to withdraw food. Niall Hatch from Birdwatch Ireland said the woodpeckers’ arrival was an exciting development for bird watchers.

“It's the first time a forest bird like this has colonised in Ireland,” he said.

“They are gorgeous creatures and they are beautiful and interesting to watch.

“The sound of them on a tree is amazing. On a clear day, you can hear it up to a mile away.

“It is increasing our native Irish biodiversity and is another extra component in food chains in forests.”

It is thought the birds may have migrated from Scandinavia or Britain.

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