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Woodpeckers

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  • 28-11-2023 11:16am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭


    I'd heard that woodpeckers were becoming more common in certain parts of the country, but had thought of them as an invasive species. This morning I see this article in the IT

    One piece that caught my eye is that "Woodpeckers are protected legally and their nests should not be interfered with" - why would we have protected an invasive species like that? I'm not suggesting anyone goes out to harm Woodpeckers or disturb a nest, but curious about the path a species goes through to get protected. I had assumed protection was reserved for native species which are threatened. But doesn't seem to be the case here?



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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    woodpeckers are native and therefore not considered invasive. they got here under their own steam, became extinct through human action, and then recolonised the country about 20 years ago through natural processes.

    all native species are de facto protected unless on a 'vermin' list, or allowed game list, or similar, AFAIK.



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    e.g. the heron is not considered endangered in ireland but to shoot one is a criminal offence:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/shooting-dead-of-heron-in-co-cork-condemned-1.2133990



  • Registered Users Posts: 21,465 ✭✭✭✭Alun


    Well, there is archaeological evidence that at least one woodpecker was here as the bones of one were discovered in a cave, but this could have been a one off, nobody really know for sure.

    But you're right, the recent ones arrived here of their own accord, possibly due to high numbers in England and Wales where they made a bit of a comeback in recent years.

    Coincidentally we had one on our peanut feeder in our suburban back garden here in Bray just a few weeks ago. Beautiful bird, but wasn't quick enough to get a photo, as only a few seconds after we spotted it, a sparrowhawk swooped in and landed on the feeder!



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,878 ✭✭✭hoodie6029


    I read somewhere last year that they were hunted to extinction here in the 1800’s.

    At least two are regular visitors to my garden in South Kilkenny. They move very fast on the trees and peanut feeder so difficult to get a decent photo with a phone.

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.



  • Registered Users Posts: 21,465 ✭✭✭✭Alun


    There's a few theories all right, another is that they went extinct due to extensive deforestation in the 17th and 18th centuries.



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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    is there any oral or written evidence of them here?



  • Registered Users Posts: 21,465 ✭✭✭✭Alun


    I don't know to be honest. There is an Irish word for woodpecker so you'd assume so, although before the recent "invasion" there were records of the odd vagrant individual turning up here, so maybe that's why there's an Irish word for them.



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,730 ✭✭✭Birdnuts


    Maybe they are taking revenge on the ESB for their ongoing destruction of Eel and Salmon runs via various outdated dams they continue to operate in primitive ways and in defiance of relevant EU Directives. Honestly the attitude in this country of the people who populate the higher levels of state and semi state agencies to biodiversity issues continues to be stuck in the dark ages.


    PS: Last time i checked the likes of Poland with 9 species of Woodpecker hadn't been blacked out and the population reduced to candles🙄



  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 3,068 Mod ✭✭✭✭OpenYourEyes


    Just to clarify, amongst a couple of inaccuracies in the article, that we have hundreds of breeding pairs in Ireland, not 100. It's more than likely above 500 but no good estimates beyond that.



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    i was thinking that too, and had wondered where that number came from. maybe an old article the journalist looked up?



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  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 3,068 Mod ✭✭✭✭OpenYourEyes


    It was a dodgy phoneline (Not the woodpeckers fault....)!



  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭Responder XY


    Interesting, I didn't realise that they were likely here before. Given the lack of definitive evidence (based on the conversation here at least), how does a species get designated as native? is there a list that someone maintains that names native species? or is it the other way around, where species are assumed to be native unless designated otherwise?



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    Alun mentioned that bones of a woodpecker were found in a cave - but generally, i suspect small(ish) birds aren't very common in tha archaeological record anyway. no coincidence that it was found in a cave, archaeology can often survive better in them.

    some species would be better recorded than others in literature; but one species (not a bird!) that people are often surprised to find isn't strictly native is the hedgehog; brought here by the normans IIRC but long since naturalised.



  • Registered Users Posts: 238 ✭✭AmpMan


    Is it possible that the woodpecker dug the cave and died of exhaustion ?



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,133 ✭✭✭Shoog


    Friend has them visiting his bird feeder in west Cavan.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,319 ✭✭✭blackbox


    I wasn't aware that woodpeckers ate salmon or eels. Are you thinking of kingfishers?



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    it's the ESB doing the damage to the salmon runs, not the woodpeckers (or kingfishers).



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,699 ✭✭✭standardg60


    Niall Hatch was on newstalk the other day and he said the best guess is they've not been here since before the last ice age.

    Also they don't like to fly over open water so presumably if it wasn't for population pressure in the UK they wouldn't have bothered coming back at all.



  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 3,068 Mod ✭✭✭✭OpenYourEyes


    A species doesn't get designated as "native", but as you say it's the other way round where a species can get designated as "invasive".



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,468 ✭✭✭Markcheese


    Did i hear something About the same name in irish for woodpecker and magpie ,

    Or maybe i imagined it

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦



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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,699 ✭✭✭standardg60


    Without checking, doubtful, cnocaire adhmaid is the Irish name for woodpecker, or basically 'wood knocker'. Cnocaire isn't really an Irish word, bar something connected to hill climbing, so the Irish version is just a bastardidation of English.

    Which would also lead to the assumption that the woodpecker wasn't known to Irish people for a long time.



  • Registered Users Posts: 22,306 ✭✭✭✭Esel


    Not your ornery onager



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,699 ✭✭✭standardg60


    Of course, that makes far more sense.

    Google is spelling it cnocaire.



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,468 ✭✭✭Markcheese


    Went looking on google - doesn't make it true though.

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,699 ✭✭✭standardg60


    Good surfing there, and well remembered!

    Certainly plausible that the woodpecker died out with the mass deforestation from the 1500s on and Munster would indeed have been the last refuge, but still surprising that none would have survived in pockets of forest or on inland islands, or indeed that there would be more literary reference to them.

    In today's world it would seem strange not to notice the change from woodpecker to magpie and think they were the same bird but people probably had a lot more to worry about then. The crane thing is interesting, my parents would have referred to herons as cranes too.



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,109 ✭✭✭SuperBowserWorld


    Looking forward to seeing a woodpecker. Could never understand how the UK, with a much larger density of people had different species of them, and we had none. Really, it's because we don't have enough tree cover I guess.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,699 ✭✭✭standardg60


    Going down a rabbit hole now, discovered that another Irish name for the woodpecker is snag darach. Darach is oak and snag is gasping or hiccupping, so something repetitive which makes sense.

    Snag bruic, bruic is a scot's gaelic variant of broc, a badger, so a hiccupping or gasping badger seems a rather apt name for a Magpie.

    Seems more plausible that the woodpecker was indeed around until the 1600s.



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,536 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder


    Most of our woodlands were already lost by then AFAIK, but I think we noticed them more being taken from us than when we took them ourselves...

    I dug out a couple of pages from Rackham's 'woodlands' and Mitchell and Ryan's 'reading the Irish landscape' and posted them on boards a few years back, on the topic. Not much point searching for the posts now, search is a lost cause.



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,468 ✭✭✭Markcheese


    I'm pretty sure that the river in midleton is the named after cranes - owenacurra -abhainn na corrà -river of the cranes, the town is mainister na corrà - i suppose where the town is was marsh / bogland that suited cranes

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦



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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,133 ✭✭✭Shoog




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