Donnybrook’s Hidden Bird Sanctuary

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Nestled in the middle of Donnybrook, defying its busy urban surroundings is a wild bird sanctuary, home to Blackbirds, Finches, Robins, Thrushes, Blue Tits and bats.

It was bequeathed to An Taisce by Miss Kathleen Goodfellow in 1971 and management is shared with the Upper Leeson Street Residents’ Association. Maintained as a natural habitat by two volunteers (Jimmy Kinahan and Andrew Clinch) trees and shrubs are allowed to grow in a controlled way. “Constant management of the site is required to provide an environment that can support a healthy bird population,” says Andrew. “Too much overgrowth deprives birds of appropriate feeding and nesting areas.”

Within the surrounding walls, a set number of bird boxes have been placed strategically up high on trees and feeders and are filled on a weekly basis with peanuts, sunflowers and niger seed. Jimmy told NewsFour when we visited that, “the scrape marks are where the birds land on the box. The hole in the bird boxes allows small birds like blue tits to go in, they won’t go in if the hole is any bigger as it will let other, bigger birds in. You can see when a bird box is popular as the hole is worn.”

Boxes and feeders are always kept in open spaces so that birds can see any predators and because birds are territorial only a limited amount of boxes are there to avoid overcrowding which would deter birds from coming.

The keepers have no way of telling how many birds come to the sanctuary but next year some fourth year students from St. Conleth’s College will be conducting a survey to monitor the birds and an information chart will be made for passers-by and visitors.

To do your bit for birds during the colder months keep a bowl of water in the garden, make sure it doesn’t freeze over, leave out food consistently such as sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, raisins, currants, grated cheese or cooked potato. Don’t leave out salted nuts. Place food in open spaces so that they won’t get trapped by cats and don’t place food on the ground to avoid attracting vermin.

The sanctuary is generally not open to the public, as the least intrusion as possible is better for the birds. But people can visit by asking Jimmy or Andrew to show them around and tours are held during Ranelagh Arts Festival to raise funds as they pay for the bird food themselves.

They are currently looking for sponsorship and if people would like to volunteer to help out, ideally locals, they can contact Andrew on 01 2985967 or 087 7754501.

Pictured left is volunteer Jimmy Kinahan.
Below is a bird nesting box.
Photographs by Leeza Kane.

By Leeza Kane