The Jackdaw , Corvus monedula
The Jackdaw is Britain’s smallest black crow ( a family of birds collectively known as corvids), which also includes ravens, crows, rooks, jays and magpies. With a distinctive silvery sheen to the back of its head. The pale eyes are also noticeable. The jackdaw call is a familiar hard ‘tchack’ from which it gets its name. It will commonly nest in chimneys, buildings, rock crevices and tree holes. Jackdaws can be found in fields, woods, parks and gardens. They’re social birds and roost communally in woodlands. They’re widespread and common across the UK, except the Scottish Highlands. British birds are mostly resident, though upland breeding birds migrate south and west to lowland regions and Ireland for the winter. Meanwhile, the wintering population is increased by immigrants from northern Europe, which arrive along the east coast in the autumn.
Jackdaws mate for life , normally forming mating pairs in their first year , allow they may not breed until the following year. Jackdaws are colonial cavity nesters, and will use anything from a hole in a tree to a chimney. Jackdaw nests are usually constructed with sticks to form the outer section of the nest, and lined with wool or hair. You can encourage jackdaws to nest in your garden by putting up tawny owl boxes. Jackdaw eggs are pale blue or blue-green and generally covered with darker speckles. A jackdaw nest will normally have 4 or 5 eggs, but they all hatch at different times, which means the youngest chick has a significantly lower chance of survival than the eldest.
Their diet is largely composed of seeds, fruit and invertebrates, but as Jackdaws are also carrion eaters, they will pick at road kill or even take other birds’ eggs. The jackdaw diet varies depending on their location, so near farms insects are important, but in urban and woodland areas seeds and fruit make up more of the diet.
The intelligence of Jackdaws is legendary and they figure in myths throughout Europe. They are supposed to steal jewellery and keep it in their nests, but there seems to be no truth in this for wild birds. However, tame birds can easily be taught to do tricks. There are also several stories of Jackdaws caring for injured relatives.
Classified as Green in the UK under birds of conservation concern , as with most wildlife in the UK the Jackdaw is protected under the wildlife and countryside act , 1981.
Life expectancy 5 years
Population 1.4 million pairs
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