Birds at The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland. Over 30,000 pairs of seabirds can be found here during the nesting season from April to July and it is possible to view over 20 species of birds in the area.
The area was designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds under the EU Birds Directive in 1986 and as a Refuge for Fauna in 1988 with internationally important numbers of both Guillemot & Razorbill and nationally significant numbers of Puffin, Kittiwake and Fulmar. Endangered bird species like Choughs can also be found here on a year round basis. Included within the designated SPA site are the cliffs, the cliff-top maritime grassland and heath, and a 200 metre zone of open water, directly in front of the cliffs to protect part of the birds’ feeding area. The designation covers 200 hectares and highlights the area’s importance for wildlife.
While there are many seabird colonies on the offshore islands around Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are home to the largest colony on the mainland. Chough, Peregrine Falcon, Fulmar and Ravens can be seen all year round. From late February a variety of seabirds such as Guillemot, Razorbill, great black backed Gulls and shag begin to return to the Cliffs of Moher from their wintering grounds to prepare for the nesting season. The Atlantic Puffin, a real favourite, arrives around the end of March. Gannets do not nest at the Cliffs of Moher but can be seen fishing here having flown long distances to do so.
During the nesting season bird viewing is possible from any of the cliff side pathways and viewing areas but the raised viewing platform on the south side of the visitor centre provides fantastic views of Goat Island with often hundreds of Puffins to be seen on its grassy slopes. From here you can also see the Great Stack with nesting Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill on various levels and Shag and Cormorant frequently seen sunning themselves at the base. As most birds nest on the cliff face or the grassy slopes on the lower sections of the cliff it is not possible to approach the seabirds closely but coin operated telescopes are available along the pathways. We recommend you bring a pair of binoculars to help with your viewing. Our Cliffs of Moher Rangers can tell you more about the birds you can see on the day of your visit – don’t hesitate to ask them for pointers. Around the visitor centre look out for Pied Wagtails, Rooks, Swallows and Ravens.
Bird counts have been conducted at the Cliffs of Moher by Rangers and Birdwatch Ireland volunteers over the years with the most recent taking place in 2011.