Spotting 7 Magnificent Bird Species During Your Hike In Ireland: A Birdwatcher’s Guide

Discover a Birdwatching Paradise whilst Hiking in Ireland

Have you ever been hiking in Ireland and suddenly found yourself awestruck by beautiful birds flitting overhead? We know the feeling. With over 450 bird species recorded, Ireland is indeed a paradise for birdwatchers, including ourselves – we once had the pleasure of spotting an Atlantic Puffin, making up 60% of the world’s Puffin population! In our guide here, you’ll gain crucial knowledge about seven breathtaking bird species in Ireland even as you venture out hiking.

Get ready to embark on a feathery adventure like no other!

Key Takeaways

  • Ireland is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 450 bird species recorded.
  • The Magnificent 7 Bird Species in Ireland include the Puffin, Greenland White-fronted Geese, White-tailed Eagles, Razorbill, Cormorant, Ringed Plover, and Rose Tern.
  • Some of the best places to spot these magnificent birds during your hike in Ireland are the Skellig Islands, Rathlin Island, The Saltee Islands, The Cliffs of Moher, Glenveagh National Park, County Kerry, Cape Clear Island, Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, and along the River Shannon.

The Magnificent 7 Bird Species in Ireland

The Magnificent 7 Bird Species in Ireland include the Puffin, Greenland White-fronted Geese, White-tailed Eagles, Razorbill, Cormorant, Ringed Plover, and Rose Tern.


Puffin, Birdwatching hiking in ireland
Image by Konrad Janik from Pixabay

Puffins are small, black and white seabirds. They belong to the auk family. You can see them in Ireland and other places in Northern Europe like Scotland. Puffins love the sea more than land.

But they come on land when it’s time to breed. Let’s keep our eyes open for these cute birds as we enjoy our hike!

Greenland White-fronted Geese

Greenland White-fronted Geese, seen while hiking in ireland
Ryanx7, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Greenland White-fronted Geese are special birds. They come from the west coast of Greenland and fly to Ireland every winter. These geese have grey bodies and orange legs. The front part of their heads is white, which gives them their name.

On your hike, look for these medium-sized geese near wetlands in Wexford and other parts of western Ireland. We may spot them anytime between October and April when they migrate here from the arctic coasts in west Greenland through south and west Iceland!

White-tailed Eagles

In Ireland, we often spot the White-tailed Eagle. This bird is one of the largest in our land. They have wings as wide as two meters and bodies a meter long. Their tails are white which makes them easy to see from far away.

The White Tailed Eagle spotted during a Hike in Ireland
Christoph Müller (, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These birds are bigger than Golden Eagles, their family members, with brown colors and pale heads standing out against the sky or trees.


The Razorbill is a seabird that only comes to land during the breeding season. It has black feathers above and white feathers below. This bird is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ globally and is Red-listed in Ireland.

The Razorbill spotted during a Hike in Ireland
Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its distinctively thick black beak is deep and blunt, which it uses for catching fish underwater. The Razorbill is known for nesting in large colonies on sea stacks, making it a fascinating sight for birdwatchers along the coast of Ireland.


Cormorants are big seabirds you can often see with their wings spread out, drying in the sun. They have a long body, neck, and strong hooked bill. Cormorants eat fish and can live in both saltwater and freshwater places.

The Cormorant spotted during a Hike in Ireland
Spotting 7 Magnificent Bird Species During Your Hike In Ireland: A Birdwatcher's Guide 15

There are around 40 different types of cormorants in the Phalacrocoracidae family. The largest species is called Brandt’s Cormorant, which you can find on the Pacific Coast.

Ringed Plover

The Ringed Plover spotted during a Hike in Ireland
Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ringed Plover is a small bird that you might spot while hiking in Ireland. It has grey-brown feathers on its back and white feathers underneath. During the summer, adult Ringed Plovers have an orange beak with a black tip.

You can easily identify them by their two-tone beak, black collar, and striped head. They are about the same size as Dunlin birds. Keep an eye out for these fascinating birds during your hike!

Rose Tern

The Roseate Tern is a stunning bird species that you might have the pleasure of spotting during your hike in Ireland. With its slender build, narrow wings, and long forked tail, the Roseate Tern is truly a sight to behold.

image 35
Alix d’Entremont

Its black cap, rose flushed white plumage, and long tail streamers make it one of the most beautiful birds in Ireland. Not only that, but this rare seabird can be found on a small island off the coast of Dublin, where 85% of Europe’s Roseate Tern population resides.

So keep your eyes peeled for this magnificent creature during your birdwatching adventure in Ireland!

Best Places to Spot Birds in Ireland

Discover the breathtaking Skellig Islands, Rathlin Island, and The Saltee Islands for unforgettable birdwatching experiences in Ireland. Read more to find out where else you can spot these magnificent bird species during your hike!

Skellig Islands

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Spotting 7 Magnificent Bird Species During Your Hike In Ireland: A Birdwatcher's Guide 16

The Skellig Islands in Ireland are a must-visit for birdwatchers and hikers. These islands are known as one of the best places to spot birds, with over 25,000 pairs of gannets calling them home.

Skellig Michael, one of the islands, is an important breeding site for various seabirds such as puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. Being geographically isolated, the Skellig Islands offer unique habitats for different bird species.

Another notable location is Puffin Island, which is owned by Birdwatch Ireland and serves as a significant bird sanctuary in Ireland. Whether you’re an avid birder or just appreciate nature’s beauty, visiting the Skellig Islands will not disappoint.

Rathlin Island

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Spotting 7 Magnificent Bird Species During Your Hike In Ireland: A Birdwatcher's Guide 17

Rathlin Island is a fantastic place to spot birds in Ireland. It’s considered one of the best spots for birdwatching. The island is home to Northern Ireland‘s largest seabird colony, where you can see puffins, guillemots, and razorbills.

But that’s not all! Rathlin Island is also a breeding ground for rare birds like the Chough and Great Skua. The island offers breathtaking views of beautiful landscapes and stunning seabird colonies.

To get there, you can take a ferry and spend as much time as you want exploring the bird habitats on Rathlin Island.

The Saltee Islands

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Spotting 7 Magnificent Bird Species During Your Hike In Ireland: A Birdwatcher's Guide 18

The Saltee Islands in Ireland are incredible for birdwatching and hiking. These islands, recognized as an RSPB bird sanctuary, are among the best places in the country to spot birds.

One of their main attractions is the Magnificent 7 bird species that can be seen during hikes. The islands are particularly famous for hosting Atlantic Puffins, which are known for their resilience in harsh conditions.

To access these amazing opportunities, you can visit Kilmore Quay, which serves as a gateway to the Saltee Islands. So if you’re a birdwatcher or hiker, don’t miss out on exploring the beautiful Saltee Islands in Ireland!

The Cliffs of Moher

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Giuseppe Milo | Flickr

The Cliffs of Moher are a must-visit spot for birdwatchers and hikers in Ireland. These cliffs, stretching for about 5.5 nautical miles (8 kilometres), are breathtakingly beautiful and are an important breeding site for various bird species.

Puffins, among many other sea birds, make their nests here. In fact, nine different species of seabirds can be found nesting at the Cliffs of Moher. So if you’re lucky enough to visit this stunning location, keep your eyes peeled for these magnificent birds!

Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is among the best places to spot birds in Ireland. It’s home to various beautiful bird species, including the Golden Eagle. The park covers over 40,000 acres of stunning mountains, lush forests, and peaceful lakes.

Its natural beauty and abundant birdlife make it a top destination for birdwatchers. So if you’re a bird lover or enjoy hiking in scenic surroundings, Glenveagh National Park is definitely worth exploring.

County Kerry

County Kerry in Ireland is a fantastic destination for birdwatchers and hikers. It’s known as one of the best places to spot birds, offering diverse habitats like wetlands, estuaries, and high peaks.

In Kerry, you can find various bird species, including impressive birds of prey like peregrines, choughs, ring ouzels, ravens, and rock doves. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birder, County Kerry provides an excellent birdwatching experience that you won’t want to miss.

Cape Clear Island

Cape Clear Island is a special place for birdwatchers and hikers in Ireland. Located in West Cork, it is known for its Cape Clear Bird Observatory, which has been around since 1959.

This island is a popular spot for seeing rare birds and observing migrating birds and scarce passage migrants. Because of its isolated location, Cape Clear Island has unique habitats that attract various bird species.

In fact, around 30 new bird species have been added to Ireland’s birdwatching records thanks to this island. So if you’re looking for an exciting birdwatching adventure, don’t miss out on visiting Cape Clear Island!

The River Shannon

The River Shannon is a fantastic place to spot birds during your hike in Ireland. It is known as one of the best locations for birdwatching. The river’s floodplain has marshy grasslands and bogs that provide habitats for many different bird species.

Some of these species are part of “The Magnificent 7 Bird Species” found in Ireland. You can see these birds while exploring places like the Skellig Islands, Rathlin Island, and Glenveagh National Park along the river.

The cliffs and rock formations near the River Shannon also serve as nesting areas for various bird species. So, if you’re a birdwatcher or hiker, don’t miss out on this opportunity to observe beautiful birds in their natural habitat along the River Shannon!

Wexford Wildfowl Reserve

Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is a fantastic place for birdwatching in Ireland. It’s considered one of the best sites to spot birds and is internationally important as a wetland. Located near Wexford city, it has a visitor centre for us birdwatchers.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service and BirdWatch Ireland jointly own and manage the reserve. It has been around since 1969, providing a home for many different bird species.

So if you’re into birdwatching, don’t miss out on visiting Wexford Wildfowl Reserve!

Tips for Birdwatching in Ireland

Learn about puffins, which are one of Ireland’s most popular bird species. Timing and seasons play a crucial role in birdwatching, so plan your hike during spring and early summer when many species are nesting and breeding.

Be aware of weather conditions, as certain birds may be more active during specific types of weather. Don’t forget to bring binoculars and a camera to examine the birds closely.

Stay quiet and maintain a respectful distance from the wildlife and their habitats when observing.

Learn about puffins

Puffins are cute and unique birds that can be found in Ireland. They are mainly seen on the west coast, but you might also spot them on the east coast. Great Saltee is a great place to visit if you want to see puffins up close.

These adorable birds have bright orange beaks that become more colourful during breeding season. Puffins rely on fish like herring, hake, and capelin for their survival. So watch for these fascinating creatures during your hike in Ireland!

Timing and seasons

The timing and seasons are crucial when it comes to birdwatching in Ireland. The best months for spotting birds are from July to October, with August being the peak time. Spring is also a great season, especially for seeing breeding birds.

If you visit Cape Clear Island in spring, you have a better chance of spotting different species from mid-April to late May. Remember that different seasons bring different bird species and migration patterns, so plan your visit accordingly.

Seawatching is particularly good from July to October.

Weather conditions

Ireland is known for its unpredictable weather, which can make birdwatching challenging. As birdwatchers and hikers, we must be prepared for rain, wind, and changing weather conditions during our hikes.

Unfortunately, the article does not provide specific information about the ideal weather conditions for birdwatching in Ireland or any specific weather conditions that are associated with spotting the magnificent 7 bird species.

However, large seabird colonies in summer suggest birdwatching may be more favourable during this season. So make sure to pack your waterproof gear and dress in layers to stay comfortable while enjoying the beautiful Irish landscapes and spotting those amazing birds!

Bring binoculars and a camera.

Binoculars and a camera are essential tools for birdwatching in Ireland. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birdwatcher, binoculars allow you to look closely at birds in their natural habitats.

They help you see intricate details of plumage and observe the behaviour of different bird species. A camera is also handy for capturing beautiful photos of the magnificent birds you encounter during your hike.

You can document your sightings and share them with fellow bird enthusiasts. So, before heading out on your birdwatching adventure in Ireland, don’t forget to bring your trusty binoculars and camera!

Stay quiet and observe from a distance.

When birdwatching in Ireland, staying quiet and observing from a distance is important. Doing so increases our chances of spotting the “Magnificent 7” bird species in their natural habitat, such as puffins, white-tailed eagles, and rose terns.

This approach helps us have a more authentic and rewarding birdwatching experience. We should always respect the wildlife and their habitats by maintaining a safe distance to avoid disturbing them.

So, remember to keep calm, stay quiet, and enjoy observing these beautiful birds from afar during our hike in Ireland.

Respect wildlife and their habitats.

Respecting wildlife and their habitats when birdwatching or hiking in Ireland is crucial. Hedgerows, for example, provide important homes for many bird species. It’s essential not to disturb nests or disrupt their natural behaviours.

Plantations can harm birdlife and biodiversity in previously rich habitats, so it’s also essential to be mindful of these areas. By being respectful and considerate, we can help protect the beautiful wildlife that makes Ireland a haven for birds.

Conservation Efforts in Ireland

Conservation efforts in Ireland focus on protecting bird habitats, monitoring endangered species, and promoting sustainable tourism practices.

Protecting bird habitats

Bird habitats in Ireland are protected by laws and agreements to ensure the conservation of bird species. This includes national and international legislation, as well as agreements and conventions.

Bird populations are monitored to evaluate their status and identify any conservation concerns. It is important for Ireland to continue its efforts in protecting these habitats, as wild birds play a crucial role in the country’s biodiversity.

By safeguarding their habitats, we can help preserve these magnificent species for future generations to enjoy.

Monitoring endangered species

We have an essential task of monitoring endangered species in Ireland. The Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS) is crucial in this effort, as it tracks overwintering waterbird populations annually.

By categorizing species into Red, Amber, and Green lists based on their conservation status, the survey helps prioritize protection measures. Currently, 54 bird species on the Red list require immediate attention.

This survey provides valuable data for understanding biodiversity and guiding conservation efforts in Ireland.

Sustainable tourism practices

We are passionate about promoting sustainable tourism practices in Ireland. By adopting responsible methods, we can protect the natural environment and conserve bird habitats for future generations to enjoy.

Sustainable Travel Ireland is working towards this goal by implementing measures like controlled visitor access and interpretive signage to safeguard peatlands in Ireland. Wildlife tourism is crucial in supporting conservation efforts and providing economic opportunities for landowners who want to preserve wildlife on their land.

Together, we can positively impact the environment while enjoying the beauty of Ireland’s bird species.

Discover a wealth of birdwatching resources in Ireland, including books and guides, nature walks and tours, and Irish birdwatching organizations. Explore these valuable tools to enhance your birdwatching experience and learn more about the fascinating avian species found in this beautiful country.

Books and guides

If you’re planning a birdwatching adventure in Ireland, some helpful books and guides are available to enhance your experience. “The Birds of Ireland, A Field Guide” offers advice on birding optics, bird-watching laws, and bird conservation.

It’s a great resource for learning about the different species you might see during your hike. Another helpful book is “The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide” by Jim Wilson, which features over 1,400 photos of more than 240 species.

These resources aim to assist birdwatchers in their exploration of the diverse birdlife that can be found in Ireland.

Nature walks and tours.

During nature walks and tours in Ireland, birdwatchers and hikers have the opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes while spotting the Magnificent 7 bird species. Places like Skellig Islands, Rathlin Island, and Glenveagh National Park offer breathtaking views and encounters with these fascinating birds.

Whether observing puffins nesting on cliffs or marvelling at white-tailed eagles soaring through the sky, these guided tours provide a unique experience for nature enthusiasts.

Birdwatchers can also learn from knowledgeable guides who can share interesting facts about the different bird species in Ireland. It’s an adventure that allows us to appreciate the wonders of nature while immersing ourselves in its beauty.

Irish birdwatching organizations

Birdwatching in Ireland is made even more enjoyable and accessible thanks to the presence of several Irish birdwatching organizations. One such organization is BirdWatch Ireland, which happens to be the largest independent conservation group in the country, boasting over 15,000 members.

They provide a wealth of resources for birdwatchers, including photo galleries and information on various birding sites across Ireland. Additionally, BirdWatch Ireland offers guided tours allowing enthusiasts to explore the diverse bird species throughout the country.

This organization also plays a vital role in monitoring bird populations and conservation efforts through surveys and tracking rare sightings. So whether you’re an avid birder or just starting out, these organizations are here to help you make the most of your feathered adventures in Ireland!

The Impact of Climate Change on Irish Bird Species

Climate change is significantly affecting Irish bird species, including changes in migration patterns, habitat loss and degradation, and increased conservation challenges.

Effects on migration patterns

Bird species’ migration patterns are being affected by climate change. As the Earth’s climate continues to warm, birds are experiencing shifts in their annual migrations. Due to these changes, some species are already facing negative impacts on their migration behaviour.

For example, altering temperatures and weather conditions can disrupt the regular timing of bird migrations. This can lead to challenges in finding food and suitable nesting sites along their migratory routes.

Climate change is a significant threat that must be addressed to protect bird populations and ensure they can continue their essential migrations.

Habitat loss and degradation

Habitat loss and degradation are big problems for birds in Ireland. As the climate changes, their habitats are being affected. This means that the places where they live and find food are disappearing or worsening.

It’s not just bad for the birds; it’s also bad for us humans too. Climate change threatens bird populations and biodiversity in Ireland, which is important for a healthy environment.

We need to take action to protect bird habitats and stop habitat loss from getting worse. So when you’re out hiking and birdwatching in Ireland, remember how important it is to respect wildlife and their habitats!

Conservation challenges

Climate change poses significant conservation challenges for bird species in Ireland. Rising temperatures, changing weather patterns, and habitat loss threaten the survival of many native bird populations.

As global warming intensifies, birds face difficulty finding suitable breeding grounds and food sources. Additionally, climate change impacts migration patterns, disrupting the timing and routes that birds rely on for their annual journeys.

These challenges require ongoing efforts to protect bird habitats, monitor endangered species, and promote sustainable practices like responsible tourism. Conservation organizations and individuals must work together to mitigate the effects of climate change on Irish bird species and ensure their long-term survival.


In conclusion, birdwatching in Ireland offers a beautiful opportunity to spot some of the most magnificent bird species. Ireland’s diverse habitats provide a haven for these beautiful creatures, from the charming Puffins to the majestic White-tailed Eagles.

By visiting the best places and following some helpful tips, you can have an unforgettable birdwatching experience in Ireland. So grab your binoculars and explore the stunning landscapes while enjoying the amazing birds that call this country home.

Happy birdwatching!


What birds can I expect to see during my hike in Ireland?

You might see various types of birds, including types of sea eagles, garden birds like the goose and swan, coastal species like gulls, puffins in Ireland, roseate terns and migratory birds like brent geese.

Where can I go birdwatching in Ireland?

Good places for birdwatching are Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland, Clare’s estuaries and Killarney National Park. Also, try Rockabill Island for a chance to spot many birds.

Can I take part in any bird surveys while in Ireland?

Yes! You can join the Garden Bird Survey managed by BirdWatch Ireland or learn about their work identifying common species.

Will guided walks allow me to observe these magnificent 7 bird species?

Guided walking tours provided by BirdWatch Ireland and the national parks will help you find the best spots to view different bird numbers and offer a chance to spot one specific rarer bird!

Can I learn more about each type of these Irish garden Birds?

BirdWatch groups share lessons on identifying different types of garden birds through their calls and behaviour patterns, which helps monitor the population density.

Do we play any part towards preserving this lively ecosystem?

Humans surely do! Observing from a fair distance without causing tension amongst them ensures they live peacefully while our research data helps us understand their needs better, protecting their habitat towards increasing populations.

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