Jackdaw  Image taken in Lithuania.

Image courtesy of Algirdas   CC BY-SA 3.0 license

THE JACKDAW Corvus monedula

The Jackdaw belongs to the family Corvidae in the Order passeriformes.

This is the smallest ,cheekiest and arguably the most popular member of the crow family in the U.K. They are a familiar sight in town and country alike, being, it seems, equally happy in remote rural areas or among man made structures in towns and villages.

They can cause consternation when they build their bulky nest on the top of chimneys which may easily be blocked. However, they seem to hold on to their popularity despite any misgivings they may cause.

The Jackdaw.

photograph by Dal

Description of the Jackdaw.

The jackdaw is a striking bird with many of the characteristics associated with the crow family. The plumage is all black with the exception of grey nape, shoulders and ear coverts. dark bill and legs and a pearl grey eye {almost blue}. Close observation will reveal that the crown has purplish sheen which is raised to good effect during courtship displays. 

In relation to its body size the wings are a medium length as is the tail. neck and bill short. Their flight and walk is much quicker than those of their black, larger relatives. 

They are 33-34cm long. 

Lifestyle of the jackdaw.

Jackdaws like their larger cousins the magpie are notorious for taking the eggs and chicks of other birds, yet unlike the magpie the jackdaw still seems to find favour with many people as a loveable rogue. Its fascination for taking bright shiny objects is well known and may have given rise to its species name of monedula meaning money bird. They were thought to be fond of taking bright silver coins. The name jackdaw is thought to derive from the French Jacques d'lor or from the sound of its call which is a harsh "Chackkk" thus being corrupted to Jack.

During January and February food is at a dearth and many birds may be encountered on rubbish tips and taking carrion from road kills and natural death. Their normal diet consists of insects and other invertebrates, seeds grain,scraps of human food in towns, stranded fish on the shore line and food supplied by gardeners and bird lovers at tables and other feeding stations. They normally feed from the ground but take some food in trees.

The birds are found over a wide range from north west Africa through virtually all of Europe, Iran, north west India and Siberia. The British population has doubled over the last 30 tears or so with over 555,000 territories being the estimation in the year 2000.

In days gone by jackdaws were often reared by country people . Such birds became very tame and endured as companions for many years  seemingly content as pets. Being intelligent birds they could be taught to do complicated tricks and to "talk".



Nest eggs and young

The birds remain paired up during the winter months and during spring it is not long before they have chosen a nest site. this site is well defended although they will tolerate other jackdaws building close by.they regularly build in towns and villages often in towers or steeples and other buildings but in rural areas they will also choose situations such as hollow trees cliff ledges and ruins.

Unlike other crows this species is a hole nester but inside the crevice it has chosen they build a regular  crow nest, of sticks and twigs lined with soft material such as moss,wool or feathers. Where the hole is large and deep a great deal of material may be deposited. the bird usually build high and can be enticed to large nest boxes if they are placed high against a wall or in a tree.

The eggs are easily distinguishable. They are smaller than those of the rook, pale blue or bluish white with dark red almost black spots.there is a great deal of variation in the tone of the ground colour and the distribution of the spots. The clutch size also varies, five being the average  though few as three is not uncommon.

They tend to breed late in the spring  and only one brood is raised. the incubation period spans 20 days and is carried out by the female. The birds fledge after 32-33 days.

The clutch hatch in late May and require a great deal of food while in the nest and breeding success is not always good. the young birds are cared for by their parents for several weeks after they leave the nest.They follow the adults about for food and soon learn where the best feeding grounds are.


During September and October large flocks of birds both young and old , form to feed on areas where their food is easily obtained this may be on newly ploughed fields or where there is split grain such as on stubble and around farm yards.

During November and December a small number of jackdaws may arrive from the Continent to join our birds for the winter. Jackdaws born in Britain do not leave our shores. 


The jackdaw starts to breed at the age of two years.

The typical lifespan of the jackdaw in the wild is 5 years. 

Jackdaw-Photograph by Dal

Garden  Bird Watch ---survey 2011

The Garden Bird Watch Survey began in 1995 and has run every week since then. In 1995 the Jackdaw was seen in 22.6% of garden reports--in 2011 the figure 28.3%--- population  stable with a trend of increase. The largest densities seem to be in the N.E. of England.

Jackdaw { Familiar Wild Birds  1800,s}

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UK conservation status 2021

UK Green List -No current concerns.

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