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UCD Library Collection Spotlight: National Dawn Chorus Day: the UCD Library Ornithology Collection

A monthly online and print display highlighting our collections


National Dawn Chorus Day banner

UCD Library has a rich ornithology collection, of interest to both the popular and scholarly reader, and to the birdwatchers among the UCD community.  We take the opportunity to highlight this collection around the time of National Dawn Chorus Day, and feature in particular the Cyril Walker Ornithology Collection, a marvellous donation of over 1,800 titles which greatly enriched our collection in this area.

National Dawn Chorus Day


National Dawn Chorus Day is traditionally the day when wildlife enthusiasts the length and breadth of Ireland set their alarm clocks a little earlier than usual and go out to enjoy a morning of beautiful birdsong.  Of course, that isn’t the only day on which you can experience the marvel of the dawn chorus; the birds will be in full voice throughout early summer, and the best time to hear them is in the twilight period just before the sun comes up.


So what is so special about the dawn chorus?  Woodland and garden birds sing throughout the day, so why not just listen to them then?  Well, that is certainly a very worthwhile thing to do, but the most amazing thing about the period just before dawn is the sheer number of birds that are singing and the high volume of their songs.  People who have never before experienced a full dawn chorus in a woodland park or even a well-wooded garden are often astonished by how many birds seem to be involved.  You might think that you have a lot of birds in your garden or local park, but until you hear the dawn chorus you honestly have no idea how many are there.


This year BirdWatch Ireland branches all over the country will be holding guided dawn chorus events at around 4am on 17th May.

Events for National Dawn Chorus day in South Dublin.


The Cyril Walker Ornithology Collection


Mr. Cyril Walker’s ornithology collection, over 1800 titles, was generously donated to UCD Library by his widow Ms Judy Greenwood in 2009 and incorporated for general use in 2011.

Cyril Alexander Walker (8 February 1939 – 6 May 2009) was a British palaeontologist, curator of fossil birds in the Natural History Museum. He was also interested in fossil turtles. Walker joined the Museum in 1958 and spent his entire career there, becoming curator in 1985. He was also an author/editor of a number of titles in the fields of bird watching and fossils.

Throughout his life Walker was an enthusiastic bird watcher, pursuing his hobby on trips all over the world.  The photos show Mr Walker in the field, and with Dr Gareth Dyke in 1998. Dr Dyke was a member of UCD and was instrumental in obtaining the donation for the Library.

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