Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Jackdaws inspecting potential nest site

A bright blue sky greeted us today. Days are getting longer and there is a certain spring feeling in the air. Jackdaws are not common birds in my local area, but there are a few, loyal to their territories, and usually nesting inside chimney pots. Today, I spotted a pair sunbathing on a tree, next to each other. After a while, they flew to a chimney and one of them - likely the male - inspected each of the chimney pots carefully, while the female sat around. Then he called and fluffed up its plumage and both flew to the other side of the street, meeting another pair. A Carrion Crow then landed on a aerial close to the chimney, came down and checked inside the chimney pots the Jackdaws had been inspecting. It looks like crows watch carefully what other animals are doing and like to check just in case there might be something in for them. In the case of nesting Jackdaws, the adults will rarely leave the nest unattended once there are eggs or chicks in it, as predation is the main cause of nesting failure.
 It is early for Jackdaws to start nest building, but their instincts are definitely stirring.
Hole number one, check
Hole number two, check
Hole number three, check

The individual on the left (prob the male), makes some soft calls with plumage fluffed up
The curious Carrion Crow watching the Jackdaws

More information
Coombs, F. (1978). The Crows: a study of the Corvids of Europe 255 p. London: Batsford.


  1. The Jackdaws in Hyde Park in London have also recently been examining nest sites: holes in dead trees. I haven't been watching these entertaining birds for long as they have only just returned, having been forced out in 1968 by the death of the elms they liked to nest in. But they have occasionally been seen in the streets around, probably using chimney pots as yours do.

    Their speed allows them to snatch food from Carrion Crows, and get away with it.

    Thanks for a consistently fascinating blog. I am waiting to find an excuse to put a link in my own blog to your film of the Herring Gull's worm dance.

  2. Thank you Ralph, much appreciated comments. Lovely to hear too your Jackdaws are back. Here they are shy, I have seen them feeding on the sports fields, but never near people. A shame, because when they are tame they are beautiful to watch up close!

    1. Ours will already come down to take a piece of digestive biscuit from the ground, but they are not as familiar as the Carrion Crows, which will take food from the hand of people they know. But Jackdaw Central in London is Richmond Park where there are hundreds of them (and hardly any crows, which they seem to have displaced). At the open-air café they will stand on the other end of the table waiting for you to look away so that they can grab something. They keep the deer free of ticks, and the deer allow Jackdaws to walk all over them, even climbing on their heads and picking insects from around their eyes. See this fine picture from Fraser's Birding Blog.