The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS ) has unveiled new Curlew structures in three Irish villages and towns, including one Mayo village, to celebrate the iconic Irish bird which remains under threat.
Three structures have been unveiled in Tooreen along with Roscommon town and Drumshambo in Leitrim. These structures are aimed at raising awareness for the curlew.
The Curlew Conservation Programme, directed by the NPWS, commissioned Donegal artist Brendan Farren, to create these structures from willow. These structures celebrate the importance of the locality for Curlew and aim to bring the species to mind for visitors and local people alike.
The Curlew Conservation Programme engages with local communities, clubs, farmers and landowners. Over the past four breeding seasons, direct assistance and support from the community has allowed the programme to progress in these local areas, allowing the Curlew Action Team and relevant parties to work as a collective with one common goal.
Commenting on the Curlew Conservation Programme, Minister for State, Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD said: "If we don’t work together now, we may be the last generation to hear the curlew during the summer mornings and evenings across our countryside and children growing up today may never experience what we know as part of what makes our countryside what it is."
"The Curlew (An Crotach ) is one of the most iconic birds of the rural Irish landscape. It is recognisable by its long, down curved bill, large greyish brown body and long legs. It has a haunting and evocative call that carries a memory of a communal time.
"There has been a staggering 97 percent decline since the 1980s. A National survey carried out in 2015-2017 found that there are fewer than 150 known breeding pairs remaining.
"Ireland is host to thousands of visiting Curlew in winter, however these birds return to their own breeding grounds in Britain, Scandinavia and Russia in the spring. The presence of these migrant birds may have masked the decline of the native breeding population.
"The Curlew is Ireland’s only breeding species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of endangered species. As a nation, it is our collective responsibility to save the small number of Curlew that remain from extinction. A sight and sound that every generation would have seen and heard has been lost on our watch and the countryside is becoming all the poorer for it.
"Curlews depend on open habitats, such as bogs and grasslands. Lost, mismanaged and fragmented habitat is part of the reason for their decline, along with high predator populations. As a result, the birds are finding it almost impossible to rear chicks from their nest on the ground."