20 Most Common Irish Garden Birds | Easy Identification Guide

Have birds taken over the world? Over the last few months it certainly appears that way. With so many people stuck indoors, we’re all paying more attention to the sights and sounds of life just outside our windows. It’s quite a magical thing to see and hear these birds going about their lives, full of the joys of spring.

Here’s our guide to some of the 20 most common birds you’ll spot out your window:

Black Bird (Credit Juan Emilio)

1. Black Bird (Turdus merula)

Irish name: Lon Dubh

This is one of the most common birds found in Irish gardens. The male is all black with a bright orange-yellow beak and eye ring. The females are brown in colour with speckles and can be mistaken for a song thrush. 

Robin (Credit Francis C. Franklin)

2. Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Irish name: Spideog

Probably one of Ireland’s best loved birds. The robin is instantly recognisable by its red-orange breast. Can be found all over the country and are often quite friendly creatures.

Great Tit (Credit Francis C. Franklin)

3. Great Tit (Parus major)

Irish name: Meantán mór

The biggest of the tits, around the same size of a robin. They have a jet-black head with white cheeks. The bellow is a bright yellow with a dark band down the middle. The stripe down the belly in males is a sign of status, the larger the stripe the more attractive it is the females.

Blue Tit (Credit Francis C. Franklin)

4. Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)

Irish name: Meantán gorm

These colourful fellows are  common in most gardens and are active little acrobats! They have a blue cap with white cheeks and a dark blue band across the eyes. Their wings and tails are blue and they have a pale yellow belly. Always a treat to spot these little guys!

Coal Tit (Credit fsphil )

5. Coal Tit (Parus ater)

Irish name:  Meantán dubh

These guys like wooded areas, so you won’t find them if there’s no trees around. They have a black crown with a long white patch on the nape, white cheeks and a small blueish-grey bill. Their underbelly is a pale greyish colour. Their wings are dark grey with two white wing bars. Mischievous little fellows, they like to hoard their food.

Chaffinch (Credit John Haslam)

6. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Irish name: Rí rua

The male is more colourful with an orange-pink belly and face and a blue-grey crown. The females colour is more washed out and grey. Both males and females have long dark wings with white patches.

Magpie (Credit Pierre-Selim )

7. Magpie (Pica pica)

Irish name: Snag breac

One for sorrow, two for joy – the magpie is unmistakable and common all around the country. They have a white underbelly and black head, crest and tail that has a slight blue-green iridescent sheen. These creatures are highly intelligent  and are the only bird known to pass the mirror test, along with very few other species.

Goldfinch (Credit Francis C. Franklin)

8. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Irish name: Lasair choille

Vibrant red face, yellow wing bars and black wings with white spots. They’ve a pale brown underbelly. Known to feed on thistles in recent years they’ve become a more common sight feasting on garden nut feeders.

9. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Irish name: Gealbhan binne

The males have a little black bib, brown nape and grey crown. Females are plainer with less distinctive markings. Active and noisy little fellows keep on eye out for these speedy birds bobbing around the garden.

Greenfinch (Credit Per Harald Olsen/NTNU)

10. Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

Irish name: Glasán darach

They have bright yellow-green feathers, with bright yellow patches on their grey coloured wings. The females have more dull and muted colours. 

Dunnock (Credit Smalljim)

11. Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Irish name: Dunnóg

These are around the same size as a Robin. They are dark brown with black streaking and grey on the underside. They have thin orange-brown legs and a deep red or brown eye. They mainly breed in hedges and you tend to see them creeping along the ground close to hedges.

Wren (Credit  Ken Billington)

12. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Irish name: Dreoilín 

The wren is one of our smallest birds. They are a rusty brown and paler underneath. They have a little white stripe over the eye and a thin down-curved beak. You are more likely to hear than see these fellows. They have a loud high energic song and they cock their tail as they sing. Their Latin name derives from cave dweller as they spend a lot of time in hedges and undergrowth.

Starling (Credit Philip Heron)

13. Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Irish name: Druid

A bit smaller than a blackbird they have a dark glossy plumage with an iridescent sheen and heavily spotted in white. These spots become less obvious in spring. These can often be seen as a nuisance in the garden but in recent years they’re numbers are in the decline. They are experts mimics and can imitate other bird calls.

Song Thrush (Credit JJ Harrison)

14. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Irish name: Smólach Ceoil

Very recognisable around the size of a Blackbird. The upperparts are a plain brown and the underparts are pale buff with dark spots in lines. The males usually perch up high to sing out their song. 

Wood Pigeon (Credit Tristan Ferne )

15. Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Irish name: Colm Coille

As the name suggests they tend to nest in trees and bushes. They are a pale grey, with a pinkish-grey underbelly. Large white wing bands and white and green patches on the neck.

Jackdaw (Credit Maxwell Hamilton)

16. Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

Irish name: Cág

The Jackdaw is the smallest of our crows. They are dark grey in colour with a silvery nape and a dark face with light blue eyes. Like all crows, they are very intelligent and social.

Collared Dove (Credit Dhaval Vargiya)

17. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Irish name: Fearán baicdhubh

Pale coloured body with a distinctive white edge and black bar at the base of the neck.

Siskin (Credit By Sławek Staszczuk)

18. Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

Irish name: Píobaire

These are around the same size as a blue tit. They have a deeply forked tail and mostly yellow-green in colour and have black and yellow markings on the wings. The female’s colours are more muted than the male.

Rook (Credit Adrian Pingstone)

19. Rook (Corvus frugilegus)

Irish name: Rúcach

The most common crow species in Ireland. Bigger than a Jackdaw they are all black with a long grey, slightly curved beak.

20. Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

Irish name: Feannóg

Same size as a Rook. As the name suggests it has a black ‘hood’ covering its head with a pale belly and dark coloured wings.

Tips to attract and look after birds in your garden.

Putting out their favourite food is a sure fire way to attract birds. Different types of feed will attract differnet birds, try a mix of seeds, nuts or suet balls .

Make sure you place feeders are placed up so feeding birds are safe from predators like local cats! Wash and move around feeders regularly and clean and put out fresh water daily.

Happy spotting!

Curious about Seabirds? This is our Seabird Identification Guide

Intrigued by seashells? Check out our Shell Identification Guide

Fascinated by Jellyfish? Check out our Jellyfish Identification Guide

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me ann@coastmonkey.ie or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22