Corvus monedula

One of eight British corvid species, the pale-eyed Jackdaw is the smallest of our crows. These highly intelligent and social birds are common in both town and country, where they often associate with Rooks and other crows.



Juvenile Jackdaw perching on a bird bath

Juvenile Jackdaw perching on a bird bath

Pair of Jackdaws perching together on a branch

Pair of Jackdaws perching together on a branch

Jackdaws in a nest cavity

Jackdaws in a nest cavity

Jackdaw resting near to the coast

Jackdaw resting near to the coast

Portrait of a Jackdaw

Portrait of a Jackdaw

Appearance & Identification

What do Jackdaws look like?

The Jackdaw is a small, sociable crow with very dark grey plumage. They have a jet-black crown but a paler grey nape and sides of the face. Perhaps their most distinctive features are their striking pale-blue eyes, but their short, stout bill also separates them from similar species.

Male and female Jackdaws look very similar, but juveniles can be identified by their dark eyes and duller brownish plumage.

Jackdaws are most easily confused with the Rook since these two crows often flock together. However, Rooks are much larger birds with dark eyes and long bills with a pale base. They also have similar plumage to the large Hooded Crow of Scotland and Ireland.

<p><strong>Jackdaw perched on top of a wooden post</strong></p>

Jackdaw perched on top of a wooden post

<p><strong>Jackdaw Fledgling</strong></p>

Jackdaw Fledgling

Jackdaws are small crows, slightly larger than the Magpie but with a much shorter tail.


Adult Jackdaws are compact birds with a total body length of about 34 centimetres or 13 inches.


Most full-grown Jackdaws weigh between 200 and 270 grams or 7 to 9.5 ounces, with males being the heavier sex.


Jackdaws are agile in flight, with a broad wingspan of 67 to 74 centimetres or 26 to 29 inches.

Jackdaw in-flight in natural habitat

Jackdaw in-flight in natural habitat

Calls & Sounds

What sound does a Jackdaw make?

Jackdaws are highly vocal birds, and like other corvids, these large songbirds are not renowned for their singing ability. Their typical ‘chak’ call is a high-pitched, somewhat bubbly yapping sound.

Jackdaw calling out

Jackdaw calling out


What do Jackdaws eat?

Jackdaws are opportunistic omnivores that vary their diet throughout the year. Animal foods like insects are most important during the breeding season, although plant matter like grain, seeds, and fruits are a major source of energy in the winter.

Jackdaws also scavenge for scraps and carrion, and they are notorious for raiding birds’ nests and even stealing the eggs of large water birds and seabirds. They often feed from garden bird tables, where some birdwatchers consider them rather unwelcome visitors.

Pair of Jackdaws feeding on the ground

Pair of Jackdaws feeding on the ground

Habitat & Distribution

What is the habitat of a Jackdaw?

Jackdaws are at home in a wide variety of habitats, although they tend to prefer open landscapes with scattered trees. They avoid large open areas without trees and densely wooded habitats like forests.

What is the range of a Jackdaw?

Jackdaws are widespread in Europe, Western Asia, and marginally in the north of Africa. They occur virtually throughout the United Kingdom, although they are absent from parts of northwestern Scotland.

Where do Jackdaws live?

Jackdaws generally forage on the ground and use trees and buildings for roosting and nesting. They are social birds that forage and roost in flocks that vary from just a small group to hundreds of individuals.

How rare are Jackdaws?

Jackdaws are common in the United Kingdom, with an estimated population of over three million adult birds.

Where can you see Jackdaws in the UK?

Jackdaws are easy to spot in the United Kingdom. They are common in urban and suburban areas but equally at home in farmland and open countryside, both inland and at the coast.

Jackdaw foraging in open landscape

Jackdaw foraging in open landscape

Lifespan & Predation

How long do Jackdaws live?

Jackdaws can live for up to 18 years, although their average life expectancy is just five years or so.

What are the predators of Jackdaws?

Jackdaws are vulnerable to various small and medium-sized predators, including birds of prey and mammals like pine martens and house cats. The Goshawk is a major predator of young Jackdaws in some parts of their range.

Are Jackdaws protected?

Jackdaws are protected in the United Kingdom by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Are Jackdaws endangered?

Jackdaws are a green-listed species in the United Kingdom with a healthy population. In fact, these birds have increased markedly since the mid-1900s. Globally, Jackdaws are classified as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List.

Pair of Jackdaws perched together on a branch

Pair of Jackdaws perched together on a branch

Nesting & Breeding

Where do Jackdaws nest?

Jackdaws are cavity nesters that build their nests in various sheltered sites, including crevices in sea cliffs, caves, tree cavities, chimneys, nest boxes, and even animal burrows. Both males and females work together to build a nest of twigs, mud, fur, and all manner of other materials to fit within the cavity. These social birds typically nest in loose colonies with other Jackdaw pairs.

When do Jackdaws nest?

Jackdaws usually start breeding when they are two years old. They nest between March and June, producing a single brood each year. Their eggs hatch after about three weeks, and the young birds fledge roughly one month later.

There’s a lot more to learn about Jackdaw breeding! Read our comprehensive guide to Jackdaw nesting for everything you need to know.

What do Jackdaw eggs look like?

Jackdaws usually lay four or five eggs, although their clutch size varies from three to eight. Each egg has a pale blueish colour with numerous dark speckles and measures approximately 3.5 centimetres long and 2.5 centimetres wide.

Do Jackdaws mate for life?

Jackdaws are monogamous birds that pair for life. They show an unusually high degree of sexual fidelity to their partner, although extra-pair mating has been confirmed in some individuals.

<p><strong>Jackdaw outside the nest</strong></p>

Jackdaw outside the nest

<p><strong>Jackdaw feeding its young at the nest</strong></p>

Jackdaw feeding its young at the nest


Are Jackdaws aggressive?

Jackdaws are not particularly aggressive birds, although they can dominate smaller songbirds around food sources. They are social birds that roost and co-exist peacefully with other corvids like Rooks.

Where do Jackdaws sleep at night?

Jackdaws roost communally in the winter in large trees in woodlands. Seeing flocks of agile, wheeling Jackdaws arrive and depart can be an amazing, if noisy, experience. These large groups dissolve temporarily in the breeding season when pairs roost together near their nests.

Flock of Jackdaws in-flight and roosting in the trees

Flock of Jackdaws in-flight and roosting in the trees


Do Jackdaws migrate?

Jackdaws are resident in the United Kindom throughout the year, although migratory birds may visit from mainland Northern Europe in the winter.

Are Jackdaws native to the UK?

Jackdaws are a naturally occurring species in the United Kingdom. They have been known for many centuries and are mentioned in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare in the 14th and 16th centuries, respectively.

Jackdaw in-flight

Jackdaw in-flight


What's the difference between a Jackdaw and a crow?

Jackdaws are a small species of crow from the Corvus genus. They differ most obviously from the UK’s Carrion Crow and Hooded Crow in size, being just half the weight of these related birds.

Do Jackdaws deter other birds?

Jackdaws occasionally deter or outcompete smaller birds at the bird table. However, it’s important to remember that they are also a natural part of the United Kingdom’s ecosystem and bird fauna. Feeding the Jackdaws on the ground while providing food in a squirrel-proof feeder may help reduce competition between garden birds.

What does it mean to see a Jackdaw?

Jackdaws symbolise different things to different people. For some, spotting a Jackdaw could signify bad luck or even death, while others see them as a good omen. Their faithfulness to their partner has also inspired the belief that they indicate a successful relationship or marriage.

Why are Jackdaws so noisy?

Jackdaws are social birds that use calls to communicate among themselves. They can be especially noisy around their roost, especially just before returning or before heading out for the day. Research indicates that these birds decide when to leave by the volume and urgency of the flock’s calls, so it tends to rise to a crescendo just before they depart.

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Quick Facts


Scientific name:

Corvus monedula



Conservation status:






67cm to 74cm


140g to 270g

Learn more about the Jackdaw

Similar birds to a Jackdaw

Other birds in the Crows family

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