bird image

Pallid Harrier, Power Head, Co. Cork. 12 November 2011
(Ciaran Cronin,

Irish Rare Birds Committee

The Irish Rare Birds Committee (IRBC) is responsible for maintaining a list of the birds recorded in the Republic of Ireland and in addition the inshore waters up to 30km from the nearest land or where relevant, the median point between Ireland and Great Britain. So-called 'At sea' records, i.e. records of birds outside this 30 km limit but still within the Exclusive Economic Zone which extends to approximately 370 km (200 nautical miles) offshore or where relevant, the median point between Ireland and Great Britain are assessed and published by the IRBC in the Irish Rare Bird Report (IRBR), but are excluded from the main list.

The primary function of the IRBC is the assessment of records of certain rare and scarce species. From 2004 the results are published annually in the IRBR and previously in the Irish Bird Report (IBR) from 1953 to 2003. The most recent is the 2013 report, which along with others is available for download through this website as PDFs. In addition the IRBR is included in Irish Birds, which is published by BirdWatch Ireland annually and is available from Wings, the BirdWatch Ireland online shop.

Beginning with the 2005 IRBR, the IRBC changed its method of record submission and assessment. Generally speaking many regularly occurring and apparently seldom misidentified rarities no longer require formal documentation (although there may be occasional exceptions). The full list of species affected are included in Appendix 2. Those species which continue to require formal documentation are listed in Appendix 1. For a full account of the background and reasons behind these changes click here.

The Committee, whose members work in an honorary capacity, operates under the auspices of BirdWatch Ireland. The Committee's current membership is listed here. For a short background to its origins as well as the all time list of its members click here.

The Northern Ireland Birdwatchers' Association Rarities Committee (NIBARC) performs a similar role in Northern Ireland and the two committees work together to maintain a comprehensive record of birds found on the island of Ireland.

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October Banner

This month's image was taken by Dick Coombes and shows a view of the Cape Clear Island Bird Observatory from the Leaca Mhór (better known to birders as the A1). Also visible in the picture is part of the North Harbour, some buildings belonging to the Cape Clear Co-op and the island graveyard where Ireland's first Grey-cheeked Thrush was found in 1982. The picture was taken before renovation work on the harbour was undertaken in 2014. The island is situated off the extreme southwest corner of Ireland at the entrance to Roaringwater Bay, just three miles from the Fastnet Rock. The Observatory was founded in 1959, initially occupying the Youth Hostel building in the South Harbour, then to 'Stroma' just off the A1 in Lissamona before acquiring and moving to the present building in 1963. To date it has added Redhead, Black-browed Albatross, Bulwer's Petrel, Chimney Swift, White-throated Needletail, Little Swift, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Taiga Merlin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pallas's Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Sykes's Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Grey Catbird, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Siberian Thrush, Thrush Nightingale, Indigo Bunting, White-throated Sparrow, Rustic Bunting, Northern Waterthrush, Black and White Warbler, American Redstart, Blackpoll Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler to the Irish List and Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Blue-winged Warbler to the Western Palearctic List.

Provisional List

The most recent Provisional List available is to September 2015.

Appendix Lists

For the 2005 Revised Rarity List with subsequent updates (Appendix 1), click here.

For the 2005 Supplementary Accreditation Species with subsequent updates (Appendix 2), click here.

BirdWatch Ireland

BirdWatch Ireland is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland dedicated to protecting Ireland’s birds and biodiversity.

BirdWatch Ireland