Coal Tit. Picture: T Whyte
Winter has definitely arrived! One aspect of winter that I enjoy is watching the variety of birds that visit my garden bird feeder.
Did you know that BirdWatch Ireland annually asks members of the public to be citizen scientists by taking part in their Garden Bird Survey? Citizen science is research carried out by members of the public, such as recording the variety of birds in your garden and then submitting your recordings to be part of a national survey.
The annual garden bird survey started on November 30 this year and will continue until the end of February 2021. All it asks of you is to make a record of the highest number of each bird species that visits your garden each week.
With many of us spending more time at home I thought this would be something you could get involved with this year. Visit the website of BirdWatch Ireland to learn more www.birdwatchireland.ie.
So with all this talk of birds, of course this week’s species is focusing on a regular visitor to gardens — the coal tit (meantán dubh as Gaeilge).
BirdWatch Ireland identifies this species within the top 20 garden birds in the country and it is resident all year. As its name suggests, it is a member of the tit family with relatives including blue tits and great tits — however in comparison the coal tit is not as colourful and much smaller, weighing only 8 to 10g.
The coal tit can be identified from the grey feathers on its back and a distinctive black cap with a white patch at the back of the neck. As an omnivore, it feeds on insects and seeds and does enjoy a tasty meal of peanuts from our bird feeders.
The coal tit builds its nest using moss, hair and grass in the cavities of conifer trees and walls. It can be found across a variety of habitats, including gardens, woodland and farmland, but its preferred habitat is coniferous woodlands.
Will the coal tit visit your garden this week? If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.