This Garden Bird Parade is designed to decide the most handsome of the common birds in Irish gardens. Larger birds like Wood Pigeons and Magpies are excluded. Similarly Fieldfares, Blackcaps, Redwings etc., although very handsome, are excluded because they are not seen in enough Irish gardens.
First onto the ‘catwalk’ is the Robin, resplendent in brown suit with stunning orange-red bib and forehead, edged with grey. A good-looker with charm and courage. A favourite with many garden lovers.
Next up is the cheeky, agile and impossibly cute Blue Tit. He certainly is Blue! but he also shows a delightful weak yellow contrast and white face with a black eye stripe. Probably hard to beat.
A change of tone now as a more understated but perfectly presented candidate confidently takes the stage – The Greenfinch. The subtle Olive Green body suit with a dark eye mask brings the understatement but then there’s that dazzling flash of yellow from the wing. Definitely a garden beauty.
Staying on the understated theme comes the Black Tie dressed Blackbird. A beautiful classic all black colour with a super sheen, depending on the light. But once again the whole outfit is set off by a brilliant yellow beak and throw-back yellow eye ring. One of the commonest birds in Ireland but if talent is a factor, the Blackbird’s song is a delight.
Enter the Godfather. Male and Female Bullfinches show incredible colouring. However the strongly contrasting orange chest and Black Cap and face, together with white underside raises the male to a different level. Even the rain in the picture above, can’t diminish the shock effect.
Making a come-back is the snail-cracking, worm hunting, Song Thrush. Sharply dressed in Brown with Brown arrow heads decorating a white chest, this is a good looker. And if the Blackbird has a lovely voice, the Thrush’s song is golden.
Sweeping in with the family in tow, all full of giggles, is the Long-tailed Tit. Cute and cuddly like the other Tits, these have a more elegant tone, classic lines and the tail seems to balance the look. Black and white but with a pink flush to the back and sides, the overall effect is transfixing.
Give a big hand for the Chaffinch. Wow, up close and personal, the Chaffinch shows quite a range of colours from Grey on the head to orange on the face and chest, brown on the back and black and white markings on the wings with a touch of olive green-cream. Another contender for commonest bird in Ireland that deserves a close look.
Finally strutting his or her stuff is the striking Goldfinch. Goldfinches have been turning up at more and more gardens and striking is the apt term. Coated in a beautiful soft brown that tapers to white on the chest, with dark black markings on the wings and back and a bright yellow lightning strike on the wings, this is a very handsome bird The shocking red on the forehead and chin is merely the ‘Cherry on top’!
So there you have it – a show of beauty and defiance, with agility and subtlety. You might have a completely different set of favourities and we haven’t included beauties such as the Redpoll, the Siskin or the Goldcrest which are not seen in so many gardens.
For me, they are all beautiful and while beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, my top favourites are the Long-tailed Tit, the Bullfinch and the Goldfinch though I could make a good case for the others. In the end my 1,2,3 are:
3: The Goldfinch – one of the most stunning birds;
2: The Long-tailed Tit – probably the favourite for long-term watching and
1: The Bullfinch – it is just too hard to ignore the sumptuous orange-red chest balanced by the classic black head and grey back. On the other hand I could easily reverse 1 and 2 🙂
So do you have a favourite? Would you pick a different winner or maybe a different list altogether?