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Jackdaw

Key Features of Jackdaws

Jackdaws are a member of the crow family. They are relatively large in size, measuring around 14 inches and have glossy black plumage with a paler grey “hood” around the back of the neck. Their wings may have a slight iridescent sheen in shades of teal or blue. They can be identified by their distinctive pale-grey irises and short, sharp beak.

They have a large wingspan, wide tails and black legs with long claws.

Biology

Jackdaws are found across most of Europe, parts of north-west Africa and in central Asia. They tend to avoid areas with extreme temperatures and as such, are absent in the Scottish Highlands.

You can find them at all times of the year in the UK, but their presence is most commonly noticed during autumn and winter due to their tendency to join groups with rooks and crows, forming enormous flocks.

On occasion, numbers as high as 40,000 have been recorded in a single group. Despite their gregarious nature, they bond in mated pairs and will remain together for their entire lives.

Jackdaws will nest in trees or cliffs but, in built-up areas, favour chimneys, roofs and dilapidated buildings. They feed mostly on the ground and will visit bins and landfills in the early morning to forage for food scraps.

They have also been observed riding on the backs of livestock in order to pick ticks off of them and pull out wool and fur to build their nests with.

Jackdaws are considered to be a pest for many people due to their destructive nature. A single flock can do inordinate damage to a field of crops and their fascination with shiny objects means that they can often scratch and peck wing mirrors on cars.

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