Save the Skydancer!

The Hen Harrier is an iconic bird of Ireland’s uplands.

But this spectacular bird, known as Ireland’s ‘skydancer’ for its acrobatic courtship displays, is edging closer to extinction.

The recently published 5th national survey of Hen Harriers for 2022 reveals shocking declines in this iconic bird of prey, with only 85 confirmed pairs of Hen Harrier recorded throughout the country.

This spectacular species is at crisis point’ as hen harrier numbers decline by a third since 2015 and 59% since the first national survey 1998/2000

A key reason for this collapse is the loss of heather and grassland habitats in our uplands due to forestry, wind energy development and agricultural intensification

  •  Since the 1960’s, over 52% of the Hen harrier habitat within the six areas protected under EU law for the species has been lost to forestry.
  • Since the 1990s 500 wind turbines have been constructed across the hills and mountains that supported the species core breeding grounds. ‘Protected areas’ alone hold in the region of 300 wind-turbines.

In response to concern from the European Commission the Irish government initiated a Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan (HHTRP) to address the decline in the species in 2013. Over a decade later the government’s plan is open for public consultation.

You can help save the Hen Harrier! Demand an ambitious and workable plan to protect this iconic species.

The Environmental Pillar and Birdwatch Ireland asking the public for their support to save the skydancing Hen Harrier from extinction. Send the National Parks and Wildlife Service a submission on the HHTRP with our three key asks:

  1. Protect all nationally important Hen Harrier breeding and wintering grounds from afforestation, forest management, wind energy development and other pressures.
  2. Restore habitat across all nationally important breeding and wintering sites using clear restoration targets and timelines.
  3. Guarantee long-term support for farmers through well-funded results-based schemes across all nationally important breeding and wintering grounds.

Submissions can emailed to or in writing to: Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan Consultation, Agri-Ecology Unit, National Parks and Wildlife Service, 90 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin D07 N7CV.

You can read a full list of our asks for the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan here.

This clearly is a litmus test for the Government’s new National Biodiversity Action Plan. If we are serious about protecting and restoring biodiversity, then putting in place a credible and workable plan to safeguard a threatened iconic species and restore the habitats it depends on is essential!

Thank you.

You can read previous NGO submissions on the Hen harrier Threat Response Plan here:




eNGO submission to HHTRP_Jan 2016

BirdWatch Ireland Submission Draft HH TRP

A joint NGO response to NPWS (2021) Conservation Objectives Supporting Document_Breeding Hen Harrier