Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)


Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family:    Corvidae
Size:    Length: 13 inches (33 cm)  Wingspan: 36 inches (91 cm)
Weight: 6 to 10 ounces (180 to 270 g)
Diet: Pigeon eggs, worms, insects, fruit, berries, grain and carrion
Distribution: Europe, Asia and Africa
Young:  4 to 6 chicks, once a year
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Up to 18 years in wild and up to 30 years in captivity



·     Jackdaws are related to crows, ravens, rooks, jays and magpies.

·     The jackdaw is featured in several of Aesop’s Fables.

·     Jackdaws are incredibly curious and mischievous.

·     They sometimes dip their food in water, to moisten it.



Jackdaws are black, like crows, but have grey feathers on the back of their head and around their neck. They are smaller than crows, rooks and ravens. Jackdaws have strong feet, light grey eyes and a shorter beak than crows. 



Jackdaws can be found throughout Europe with the exception of northern Scandinavia, as well as in parts of Asia and the northwestern tip of Africa. Jackdaw numbers are increasing, to the point where they have even been crossing the Atlantic. The first North American sighting on record was in May 1984, along the east coast.


Feeding Habits

In cities, jackdaws are considered an asset because of their theft of pigeon eggs, which keeps pigeon populations down. They also eat worms, insects, fruit, berries, grain and carrion. They can be found foraging on the ground in short-grass meadows and grain fields.  



Jackdaw males court the females, and once paired, they remain together for life. Nest building occurs in February, while eggs are laid in mid-April to the beginning of July. Jackdaws are social birds and can be found nesting in colonies of 20 or more, usually in old buildings or tree holes. A bird pair will  build their nest from twigs and line it with a soft material, sometimes plucking wool from the backs of sheep. A female jackdaw is able to reproduce at the age of two, and sits on the eggs while the male brings back food to the nest. The incubation period lasts only two-and-a-half weeks and both parents feed the chicks from a sac located inside their throats. The chicks can fly at one month, but are still fed by the parents for several more weeks before they leave to become independent. 



Like their crow and raven relatives, jackdaws are well known for stealing not only shiny objects, but other birds’ eggs and nestlings as well. Jackdaws are social birds, and can be found nesting in colonies of 20 or more, usually in old buildings or tree holes. They are fiercely loyal birds and will attack anyone who interferes with one of the flock. Jackdaws are great imitators and captive individuals have been known to mimic human speech. Their name comes from the call they make that sounds like “jack” or “chak.” They migrate in autumn in flocks of up to 200, sometimes alongside their rook cousins. 



Jackdaws are not considered a conservation concern at this time, as their numbers are stable. 








Jackdaw Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited