Jackdaw Profile

The smallest member of the crow family which is seen in the UK, the Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) is legendary for its intelligence. Jackdaws are black with a silvery sheen to the back of their heads. They are 34cm in length and boast wingspans of 34cm. These sociable birds form flocks and they can be seen performing impressive acrobatics. There are many myths surrounding Jackdaws including the idea that they steal jewellery and hide it in their nests. There is no truth to this, but these birds are clever and tame jackdaws can easily be taught to do tricks.

What is the Jackdaw’s population and distribution?

Jackdaws are found across the UK except for the Scottish Highlands. They are resident throughout the year and can be seen in a variety of habitats including fields, woodland, parks and gardens. There are 1.4 million breeding pairs in this country and these birds are not of conservation concern. Indeed, jackdaws are thriving, possibly because they are highly adaptable and boast a diverse diet.

What do Jackdaws eat?

Clever thieves, jackdaws steal other birds’ eggs to eat. They also enjoy fruit, seeds, insects, small rodents and scraps. They will visit garden feeders and bird tables to take whatever is on offer and have been known to break into feeders.

Where do Jackdaws nest?

Jackdaws mate for life. They pair up in their first year but don’t mate until the following year. They will nest in trees, on cliffs and in buildings. They will take over the abandoned nests of larger birds if the opportunity arises. These birds build nests form twigs and then line them with hair, rags and any other soft materials they can find. They nest in colonies and often choose sites close to rooks. The female incubates the eggs for 17-18 days. Both parents feed the young which fledge after 28-32 days. The female starts incubating the eggs halfway through laying the clutch. This means that the last two chicks will be smaller and more vulnerable.

Did you know?

The Jackdaw’s name probably is probably derived from two separate words: Jack which means rogue and daw which is a reference to the sound of the Jackdaw’s call. Some jackdaws go grey in their old age.

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