The breeding bird community of Balrath Wood, County Meath

Funding Body: Meath County Council


Balrath Wood is a 21ha mixed woodland, located approximately 40km North of Dublin City in County Meath . The woodland is dominated by native broadleaf species such as Oak, Quercus spp., Ash, Fraxinus excelsior, Beech, Fagus sylvatica and Alder, Alnus glutinosa. Conifer species present include Norway Spruce, Picea abies and Grand Fir, Abies grandis. In an effort to promote avian species diversity at the site, two ridelines (c.20m wide) running diagonally across the site and intersecting at its centre were developed during the early 1970s. This break in the canopy has allowed for the growth of a variety of herbaceous species and low scrub providing both cover and food for birds. The edges of the woodland itself lack any such transitional zone and the wood terminates abruptly where it abuts the surrounding agricultural land. The site is used as a recreational resource by the public and is managed by the Tree Council of Ireland.

Project Objectives

To assess the effectiveness of habitat management practice for birds at the site, an avian monitoring schedule was established with ten-year survey intervals. The avian community of Balrath Wood was initially surveyed during the 1996 breeding season (Duffy et al., 1997) and the present (2007) survey represents the second bird survey in this series conducted at the site.

The objectives of this study at Balrath Wood were to:

  • identify the avian species present at the site during the 2007 breeding season.
  • calculate bird densities in three managed sub-habitats at the site.
  • compare these results with those from the 1996 survey.
  • assess the management implications of these findings.

Duffy, B.L., O'Halloran, J., Kelly, T.C. and Walsh, P. 2997. The breeding bird community of Balrath Wood, Co. Meath, 1996: A preliminary investigation. Irish Forestry, 54:2-8.

Forest Ecology

Dept. of Zoology, Ecology & Plant Science, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork