Birds on the Grand Canal


The Mute Swan
The Kingfisher
The Heron
Ducks

The Mute Swan

Mute swans are common on the Grand Canal. Despite its name the mute swan is not silent but gives occasional guttural and hissing noises. The young cygnets make more noise. The adult male is called a cob and the female is called a pen. Adults have an orange bill with a black knob at the base. Cygnets are downy grey/brown and within two to three years they get their adult colouring. A swan is slow to get airborne, usually taking a long run at it; but once in the air it is very graceful. Water-dwelling birds depend on their feathers to keep them dry, and much time is spent preening to keep the feathers in good condition. Swans feature in folklore tales. 'The Children of Lir' is one of the most popular.

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The Kingfisher
The King of Fishers are shy secretive birds found along slow-running rivers and streams and canals. They like to perch quietly on an overhanging branch watching the water for small fish. They dart down to plunge for fish. Their feathers have a dazzling blue/green colour with an orange/red underside. Their head is large with a long pointed bill. The wings and tail are short. The male and female are similar, but the lower bill is black in the male, and reddish/orange in the female. Kingfishers nest in deep burrows in banks. Their food is mainly small fish and aquatic insects.

 

Click on the CD to hear the sound of the Kingfisher.

 


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Heron
Herons usually nest and roost in flocks, but they hunt for food alone. They are fantastic 'fishermen'. They stand still and wait patiently. Some of the food they eat on the canal is minnow, frogs, eels and young duckling. Their nesting places are called heronries. The nests consist of loose, crude masses of sticks built in treetops or in bushes.

Click on the CD to hear the sound of the Heron.

 

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Ducks
Scientists classify ducks into eight main groups. Most wild ducks of inland waterways and marshes are 'Dabbling Ducks' or 'Freshwater Diving Ducks'. Dabbling ducks tip bottom up in shallow water and stretch their necks to feed on the bottom. Their bills are short and wide. Diving ducks swim under the water with their legs sticking out to the sides and have long, narrow bills. The Mallard is a 'Dabbling Duck' and it is about 61 centimetres long with curly upper-tail feathers. The male is beautifully coloured during the breeding season and in the winter. This is to catch the female's eye. The female is a dusky-brown colour so as to provide camouflage for the nest. The nest is made of grass or weeds and lined with down.

Click on the CD to hear the sound of 2 mallards.

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For more information on birds
by the Grand Canal go to
the BirdWatch Ireland website.



 

To find the resources to go with this page click here.

To find a Wordsearch to go with this web site click here.

 


Click on the first black button above to listen to a lapwing singing.

 

Ms. Dillon's 4th class provided the information for this page.