Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

loading
Jackdaw
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Jackdaw fact file

Jackdaw description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyCorvidae
GenusCorvus (1)

The jackdaw (Corvus monedula) is a lively, diminutive member of the crow family (5). It appears to have totally dark plumage from a distance, but on closer inspection it can be seen that it is dark grey in colour with a lighter grey nape and sides of the neck (2). The beak is short and slender, the eyes are a unique pale blue, and it walks with a quick 'jaunty' step (6), all of which allow this bird to be distinguished from the carrion and hooded crows or the rook (2). Males, females and juveniles are similar in appearance (2). The name 'daw' for this bird has been used since the 15th century; it is probably imitative of the call (7), but also means 'simpleton' (6). 'Jack' is often used for small animals, and, like knave, means rogue, yet it may also be derived from another call, 'tchack' (6). This bird is indeed smaller than both the rook and the carrion crow, and is a renowned thief (7).

Also known as
Eurasian Jackdaw, Western Jackdaw.
French
Choucas des tours.
Size
Wingspan: 64-73 cm (2)
Length: 30-34 cm (2)
Top

Jackdaw biology

The jackdaw is a highly sociable species outside of the breeding season, occurring in flocks that can contain hundreds of birds (6). Within flocks there is a strict hierarchy, with a head bird (6). Occasionally the flock makes 'mercy killings', in which a sick or injured bird is mobbed until it is killed (6).

The jackdaw typically feeds on the ground, taking insects and insect larvae, young birds, fruit and acorns (6). This is a playful species, performing aerobatics such as turning over in strong winds and diving; occasionally entire flocks may perform such displays at the same time (6).

Males and females pair up in their first year of life, but they do not begin to breed for another year; the pair remains closely tied for life (6). Nests are usually constructed in some type of crevice, the pair drops sticks into the crevice until some become lodged; the nest is then built on this platform (6). This behaviour has often led to chimneys being blocked and even nests, with the jackdaw present, crashing down into fireplaces (7). The pair defend their nest vigorously against intruding jackdaws (6). Four to six greenish-blue eggs are laid and incubated for up to 17 days by the female (6). Both parents feed the chicks for around 30 days (6).

Top

Jackdaw range

Widely distributed throughout Britain, but scarcer in upland areas (5). The jackdaw is also widespread throughout western Europe (6). Scandinavian populations migrate to England, Scotland and the Low Countries for the winter (6).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Jackdaw habitat

The jackdaw breeds in buildings and cavities in houses, as well as in parks, woodlands with hollow trees, and on sea cliffs (2).

Top

Jackdaw status

The jackdaw is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Receives general protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (3). Included in the Birds of Conservation Concern Green List (low conservation concern) (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

Top

Jackdaw threats

Although wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (8), jackdaws may be killed under a general licence provision by authorised persons (9). Jackdaw numbers have increased by over 50 percent since 1975 (10).

Top

Jackdaw conservation

No conservation action is targeted at the jackdaw.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

For more on British birds see the RSPB website:  

 For more information on the jackdaw and other bird species:

Top

Authentication

Information authenticated by the RSPB:
http://www.rspb.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Incubate
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
Larvae
Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Mullarney, K., Svensson, L., Zetterstrom, D. and and Grant, P.J. (1999) Collins Bird Guide. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London.
  3. Naturenet (July, 2002)
    http://www.naturenet.net/law/wcagen.html
  4. RSPB (September, 2009)
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/j/jackdaw/index.asp
  5. Lack, P. (1986) The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. and A.D. Poyser Ltd, Calton.
  6. Bruce Wilmore, S. (1977) Crows, Jays, Ravens and their Relatives. David and Charles Publishers Ltd, London.
  7. Greenoak, F. (1979) All the birds of the air; the names, lore and literature of British birds. Book Club Associates, London.
  8. DEFRA (September, 2009)
    http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/wildlife/management/index.htm
  9. RSPB. (2003) Pers. comm.
  10. British Trust for Ornithology (September, 2009)
    http://www.bto.org/birdtrends2008/wcrjackd.shtml
X
Close

Image credit

Jackdaw  
Jackdaw

© Dennis Avon / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog