Things You Need to Know About Jackdaws!
Jackdaws are the smallest crow found in the UK, growing to around 250 grams in weight and to have a wingspan of 70 centimetres. They are slate grey over most of their bodies but have a noticeable black cap and light blue-grey eyes.
They roost and feed in small communal groups and can often be seen foraging among other crow species such as rooks and carrion crows. As they are highly intelligent, jackdaws have an extremely varied diet which includes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, carrion and invertebrates but they are also renowned for taking eggs and chicks from other birds nests. With such a diverse menu, jackdaws can manage to eek out a living just as well in woodlands and farmlands as they do in towns or cities.
As well as roosting a feeding communally, they also nest in small groups. These nests would naturally be in tree hollows or cavities but in urban areas they are particularly fond of attics, church spires and chimney stacks. The nest are cup shaped and mainly made with twigs and then lined with hair or wool. Each females lays between 4 and 6 creamy blue speckled eggs that measure 3 and a half centimetres in length. These take 17 to 18 days to hatch and the first egg laid will be the first to emerge. This means that if there is not enough food for all of the growing chicks, the oldest will be strong enough to out compete their siblings and survive. In nature it is better to have 2 or 3 strong young than 5 or 6 weak ones. After they’ve hatched, both parents feed the young in the nest for about 4 and half weeks before they fledge. Just like most other corvids, once the young have fledged they stay with their family group for several more weeks being fed by the parents and learning how to find food for themselves.
Just like other members of the crow family, Jackdaws are extremely intelligent. They have been shown not only to be able to recognise people, but also the expressions on their faces. Within their social groups there is a hierarchical structure with unpaired females being the lowest ranked. However, this all changes when a female pairs up as she instantly assumes the rank of her mate and this is accepted by all the other birds in the flock. Even more to their social structure, Jackdaws have been shown to regularly form same sex pairs, especially if one of their previous mates have died prematurely.
Over the past 50 years, jackdaw numbers have been rising in the UK and there are approximately 3.2 million of them living here. In the wild they have an average lifespan of around 5 years although one that was captured in 2014 was ringed as an adult 17 years before. There have also been reports of captive birds living for as much as 30 years!
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