A highly intelligent, inquisitive and social bird, it is the smallest member of the crow family resident within the British Isles.
The jackdaw is a stocky black bird with shiny grey black plumage and an almost purple sheen on its black crown. The underside of the bird is slate grey with cheeks, nape and neck being a lighter grey. The irises of the eyes are a light almost white colour accentuated by the bird’s jet black crown. Its legs and short robust bill are also black. Adult males and females are similar in appearance whereas juveniles tend to have plumage duller in colour and a brown as opposed to white iris. Both sexes moult annually from around June to early autumn and older males tend to go more grey as they age.
It is often believed that the jackdaw, or jack, as it is sometimes known gets its name from it’s noisy, high pitched greeting call of jack – jack or chyak – chyak. Other sources attribute jack as being a thief and the ‘daw’ part of the name pertaining to the sound of its call.
The jackdaw is an adaptable forager and is at home in open farmland, wooded areas and urban environments. Its nature allows it a particularly diverse range of food including small animals, worms and insects; eggs and young birds, snails, spiders, grains and berries; carrion, road kill and any other scraps it can find at landfill sites or from people’s gardens or rubbish bins.
Jackdaws are a resident of the UK meaning they can be seen year-round all over Britain apart from the far north-west of Scotland. Being intelligent, inquisitive and adaptable they are at home in many different environments and can be found in both rural and urban regions. They frequently nest in holes in trees, old chimneys and other buildings and are not averse to using old nests from other birds which they may come across. Nests are often lined with twigs, mud, moss, hair and dung. They are a social bird often flying in flocks with other jackdaws or roosting along with other members of the crow family including rooks and carrion crows. Jackdaws resident in the UK are also known as Western or Eurasian Jackdaws and are prevalent across Europe, North Africa and western Asia.
Our resident jackdaws are strong in number and their population is on the rise. They are easy to spot once you hear their distinctive jack – jack call, roosting high in old trees on the edge of woodlands in company with their fellows. Conversely, they are often easy to find foraging on the ground in open spaces or urban lawns where they move slowly and methodically in their hunt for food. Their inquisitive and intelligent manner can entertain observers for hours as they struggle to overcome small bird feeders or use sticks as tools to help them feed.
Jackdaws generally pair for life. The female produces one brood of 4 to 6 eggs between April to July every year. The eggs are smooth and a pale blue in colour with black/brown markings and incubated by the female alone who in turn is fed by the male. The eggs hatch asynchronously (ie not at the same time) and are incubated upon arrival which often means that by the time the last chick hatches the oldest chick will be strong and well-fed whilst the youngest will not be expected to survive and thus may be abandoned by the parents.
The average lifespan for a Jackdaw is around 5 years.
A resident UK breeder, the common raven is the largest member of the crow family and one of the most widespread naturally occurring birds in the world. It is an impressive and highly intelligent bird.
Also known as the Red Billed Chough or Cornish Chough, this non migratory resident is the least common member of the crow family.