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First breeding the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Killarney

It has been confirmed that a breeding pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers has produced a small number of chicks at Killarney National Park, and the chicks are becoming more and more vocal each day as they prepare to fledge.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers appeared to have gone extinct in Ireland following deforestation in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, the first recorded sighting of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Killarney National Park was in 2013, where it was observed in the Tomies Wood area. And now, just over a decade later, chicks have been spotted for the first time. This new development is significant as it is the first recorded breeding activity within the park, according to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The breeding was recently confirmed by Sam Bayley, NPWS conservation ranger as he was ringing birds in the park as part of a British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) scheme. This was followed by reported sightings there of chicks by wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers.
Eamonn Meskell, NPWS divisional manager at Killarney National Park said: “There’s huge excitement here in Killarney since these birds were spotted over the past few weeks. Woodpeckers like to spend time in areas where there are mature trees. The park with its mature oak woodlands provides the perfect nesting and feeding opportunities for them.”
The Great Spotted Woodpecker is about the size of a starling. Both males and females are black and white with scarlet red underneath their tails. Woodpeckers have very long sticky tongues and feed on insects found in wood, as well as pine cones in autumn. During the breeding season, they may take the eggs and chicks of other birds.