This week, the International Board of Feathered and Winged Egg-Laying Vertebrate Mammals (widely known as FWELVM) published the results of their much anticipated study on the world’s friendliest birds. The prestigious study is conducted annually by a combination of Harvard, Yale and IT Letterkenny scientists, with the team travelling extensively to observe numerous species of birds globally.
This year, much in the same manner as previous years, Ireland ranked quite highly amidst the tough competition from abroad. Most notable is that Ireland’s seagulls have been voted FWELVM’s friendliest in Europe. This will come as no surprise to our readers, especially the few Dublin locals which read this paper. Many are the times that Irish seagulls have politely declined offers of food from people enjoying their lunches. The scientists conducting the study remarked upon this in awe, whilst also noting their unintrusive, almost nonchalant attitude towards people opening chicken fillet rolls near them. Bags of chips were recorded as their least favourite food to snack on, with more affordable meals such as Freshly Chopped salads and L’écrivain leftovers being found to be their go-to meals.
Further along the renowned list lie Irish crows, who were ranked 3rd best in Western Europe, whilst our robins finished 12th globally. Regrettably, Ireland’s geese had a rather poor year, sliding down the rankings by 257 points. This is following reported attacks against dogs, children and cyclists. Closer to home, UCD’s infamous family of swans climbed in ranking, rising to the admirable 27th position. This puts UCD as Ireland’s leading university in the FWELVM list. This places the swans, known colloquially to UCD residents as ‘those feckers’, ahead of the hoard of Trinity pigeons that reside peacefully and cleanly under the Pearse Street DART bridge, and the DCU falcons.
Yes, it has certainly been a fruitful year for Irish birds. This comes on the back of much needed revised governmental strategy for the sector. The Government’s purposeful under-expenditure of €11 million on forestry has meant more birds are flocking to urban areas, a development which is welcome by many city dwellers. This, coupled with the state’s €19 million Friendly Birds Programme, spurred the high rankings we received. This agenda has been one of the success stories of our current government, alongside similar triumphs in global climate policies and tax reform. The future looks bright for Ireland’s bird population; hopefully it flies to even greater heights next year.
Andrew Beaks – Nature Correspondent