JACKDAW (Corvus monedula)


The jackdaw is the UK’s smallest crow and while it prefers open countryside it is often seen nesting in the warmth of urban chimneys. A jackdaw will rarely be seen on its own, more often than not they are seen in large noisy flocks as they come into roost. They are known thieves and will break into garden feeders and like other corvids, will steal other birds' eggs. They are widespread throughout the UK but the populations are more stable in Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Alert Status:

Green - 65% increase ↑

Estimated number of UK breeding

pairs: 1.6 million (updated 2016)

Listen to jackdaw song:


The Jackdaw is quite easily distinguished from other corvids. It is noticeably smaller than crows and rooks and is not black all over. The back of their head and neck are ash-grey and they have a short chunky bill. Adults have stunning silver eyes while the young have beautiful blue eyes. Large flocks can be identified by their loud ‘chack-chack’ call.

Average Length: 34 cm

Average Lifespan: 5 Years

Average Wingspan: 70 cm

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Jackdaw diet

Jackdaws are omnivorous and will eat a varied diet mainly including fruit, insects, and food scraps. They are mostly carnivorous during the breeding season, taking insects, and songbird fledglings and eggs.

How and what to feed : Jackdaws are known to damage small feeders so using a feeding table or strong suet ball feeders will help avoid damage. They will eat almost any bird food or food scraps.

Jackdaw breeding and nesting information

Jackdaws are monogamous and pair up during their first year, however, they will not breed until their second year. They will build this bond by preening until they are ready to breed. The breeding season begins in late March when they will build their nest in cavities, often on top of the nest used the previous year, which can make the nest look very large. The nest is a mass of sticks held together by mud and lined with a thick layer of moss, rotten wood, and feathers. The female will lay 4-5 eggs and incubate them alone for 20 days before they hatch. The chicks will then remain in the nest for nearly a month before fledging, which means jackdaws usually only have one brood every season.

Threats to jackdaws

Jackdaws are green-listed and their ability to colonise almost every habitat in the UK means they face few threats so no direct conservation action is being taken. However, as with other corvids they face persecution due to the damage they cause to livestock and the disruption their nests can cause to homeowners. In Malta, this species was driven to extinction by persecution. The licenced killing of Jackdaws is legal in the UK due to the damage they can cause to crops and game bird populations.

How you can help

Installing strong feeders or feeding tables that they can feed on without causing damage or scaring off smaller birds.

Petition local areas to remove nesting spikes to allow jackdaws to nest in human-made cavities.

Don’t scare them away from your garden as they will come back if they know it is safe.

Fascinating Fact

By living in groups Jackdaws are able to communicate and tell each other whether an unknown person is approaching their nesting site!
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Benmazouz, I., Jokimäki, J., Lengyel, S., Juhász, L., Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki, M. L., Kardos, G., Paládi, P., & Kövér, L. (2021). Corvids in urban environments: A systematic global literature review. Animals, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113226

BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Corvus monedula. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/eurasian-jackdaw-corvus-monedula. Accessed: 29/08/2023.

British trust for ornithology (2023) Jackdaw | BTO - British trust for ornithology. Available at: https://www.bto.org/understanding-birds/birdfacts/jackdaw. Accessed: 29/08/2023).  

Jokimäki, J., Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki, M. L., & Suhonen, J. (2022). Long-Term Winter Population Trends of Corvids in Relation to Urbanization and Climate at Northern Latitudes. Animals, 12(14): 1820. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12141820

Lee, V. E., Thornton, A., Régli, N., & Mcivor, G. E. (2019). Social learning about dangerous people by wild jackdaws. Royal Society Open Science. 6(9): https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191031

Madden, C. F., Arroyo, B., & Amar, A. (2015). A review of the impacts of corvids on bird productivity and abundance. Ibis, 157(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/IBI.12223

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