Animals, Birds and Insects

York Museum Gardens are home to a diverse array of wildlife.

Animals such as Squirrels, Hedgehogs and Foxes can all be found in the gardens in addition to many species of birds, moths, butterflies and insects.


Over 40 species of birds live in the gardens. Species such as Dunnock, Nuthatch, Robins, Wood Pigeons and Blue Tits are regularly seen by visitors. The Gardens are also home to some more unusual species of bird such as Treecreepers, Coal Tits and Sparrowhawks.

Birds can be spotted throughout the gardens however the best areas to spot some of the more unusual birds is along the woodland walk at the bottom of the gardens towards the river.

Moths, Butterflies and Insects

White Spotted Black micro-moth
White Spotted Black micro-moth

There is an abundance of insect life in the Museum Gardens. Numerous species of Moths and Butterflies are found here and, with the help of the Laurence Sterne Trust, a monitoring programme of moths in the Museum Gardens has discovered some interesting and rare species such as the White Spotted Black micro-moth.

Tansy Beetles

Perhaps the star creature in York Museum Gardens is the Tansy Beetle.

Tansy Beetles are an endangered species which live only in a 30km stretch of the banks of the River Ouse around York.

They are beautiful to look at, with a bright, green, jewel-like appearance and are named after the Tansy plant, which they feed on.

In 2012, 30 beetles were introduced to specially planted beds, close to the Hospitium, to increase the range of the beetle but also so visitors to the gardens could take a closer look and learn about the protected species.

The beetles are about 10mm in size and are most active on clumps of Tansy between April and May, and between August and September. During the winter they hibernate.

They have declined in number because Tansy plants are only found in isolated clumps which means the beetles, which are not known to fly, find it difficult to reach each other to breed.

Stuart Ogilvy, assistant curator for natural sciences, worked with the Tansy Beetle Action Group to introduce the beetles. Alison Pringle, gardens manager, and her team, prepared and planted the Tansy beds.

For updates about the Tansy beetles’ progress, follow Stuart on Twitter @ymtgardenwatch.