Feed the birds this winter and look what might visit your garden: or perhaps NOT!


Oh dear!

Last week I received an email newsletter from Buy4Now.ie (I bought a kitchen appliance through the site about a decade ago and have been on their mailing list ever since). Part of the mail was promoting an Irish business that offers wild bird food.

I was delighted to see feeding wild birds high on the agenda… but the accompanying image really annoyed me. Getting the detail right is, I think, just as important in advertising as it is in editorial. I’m not saying that mistakes can’t happen: they can and do of course. While I take great care to get facts right in the material I post on this site, I’m sure if you spend long enough and look hard enough you’ll find the occasional error. We’re all only human. But blatant, avoidable errors, in editorial or in advertising creative, are simply unacceptable.

When it comes to wildlife, advertising professionals seem happy to take a slap dash approach to the facts. Whether it’s animated penguins and polar bears hanging out together on a television ad, or southern right whales leaping clear of the water in a Failté Ireland promotional video (about 2:15 in), making sure species are placed in the right hemisphere isn’t too much to ask, is it?

In fairness to Buy4Now.ie, the bird featured in their marketing email IS from the northern hemisphere. It’s a north American house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), or at least I think it is. I could be wrong with the ID, but I’m pretty confident in my assertion that it’s a species unlikely to visit any Irish bird tables this winter.

The irksome thing is it would be so easy to source a photograph of a goldfinch, a blue tit or myriad other birds that actually visit Irish gardens in winter. Getting it right really isn’t that hard; getting it wrong is plain careless. What sort of message does that send out to potential customers?

About Calvin Jones

Calvin Jones is a freelance writer, author, birder and lifelong wildlife enthusiast. He is founder and managing editor of IrelandsWildlife.com. He is also the tour leader and wildlife guide on our West Cork based Discover Wildlife tours.
Calvin is also co-author of bestselling digital marketing titles and offers digital business consulting services and training through Digital Marketing Success


  1. I just wonder whether the firm might not orignate in USA and it hasn’t had the sense to change its ad. for the northern European market?

    • Hi Angela, thanks for your comment.

      You’d assume that’s what’s happened, wouldn’t you? But Buy4Now.ie is an Irish website that, as far as I know, only serves the Irish market. When you click through to the actual vendor’s site from the newsletter they use a photo of a native blue tit, which is of course spot on. So looks like it’s just lazy advertising. 🙁

  2. Julian Wyllie says:

    I buy bird-food from Drinagh hardware in Skibbereen – there’s a picture of a Dark-eyed Junco on the price tag on one of the bins, sunflower seeds I think it is. I get through plenty sunflower seeds, still waiting for my Junco here on Sherkin though…

  3. Cathy Lenehan says:

    I’m from Ireland and have house finches on my bird feeders! So they must be over here also! 🙂

    • Hi Cathy,

      I’d be very surprised if you have house finches visiting your feeders… could be linnet, or perhaps lesser redpoll in breeding plumage.

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