Select Page

Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) are a species of passerine birds belonging to the Corvidae family. They are widespread in Europe and parts of Asia, inhabiting both rural and urban areas alike. With their distinctive black and gray plumage, they have long been admired for their beauty as well as their intelligence. This article will examine the physical characteristics, behavior, ecology, conservation status and importance of jackdaws.

The body shape of the jackdaw is typical among members of the crow family – they have stout bills with broad heads; short necks; small tails; powerful feet; and a wingspan that ranges from 33-40 cm (13-16 inches). Their feathers are glossy blue-black on top and lighter grey underneath, with white patches around the eyes which give them an alert appearance. The sexes look similar but males tend to be slightly larger than females.

Jackdaws can often be seen perched high up in trees or soaring through skies in flocks when migrating across large distances. In addition to being highly vocal creatures, they are known for exhibiting complex behaviors including cooperative activities such as group hunting and communal roosting at nightfall. These social traits make them one of the most intelligent avian species in existence today – able to recognize individual human faces as well as use tools to solve problems like opening food containers!



The jackdaw is a small, black-feathered bird that belongs to the Corvidae family. It is part of the passerine order and shares common traits with other birds of this family, such as crows and ravens. The scientific name for the Jackdaw is Corvus monedula and they are found throughout Europe, parts of Asia, and North Africa.

Jackdaws have short tails, long wings and fairly large bills which make them easily recognizable in flight. They typically reach lengths between 33–39 cm (13–15 inches) and weigh around 140–220 grams (5–7 ounces). Their feathers are mainly grayish-black but some species may be slightly lighter or darker in color. Males tend to have brighter plumage than females.

In terms of behavior, jackdaws can form strong attachments to their mates – particularly during breeding season – although these links may only last for several months at a time before partners find new ones. Some pairs remain together year round however it’s not uncommon for individuals to move on after one season has ended.

Habitat And Migration

Jackdaws are found in a variety of habitats throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia. They inhabit open farmland, grasslands, meadows, woods, orchards and human-altered environments such as quarries and buildings. They typically breed in tall trees with large cavities for nesting.

The jackdaw is considered partially migratory depending on the region they live in. They winter over in southern parts of their range while northern populations may migrate southward during the winter months. During the summer season, some birds will disperse from their breeding area to find more food sources. In addition, there is evidence that some individuals remain year-round in areas where milder temperatures allow them to survive without migrating.[1]

Here are three facts about jackdaw migration:

  • Jackdaws have an extensive range that stretches across much of Eurasia.[2]
  • Some jackdaws migrate each year between their breeding grounds and non-breeding sites located far away.[3]
  • Migration patterns differ significantly among different regions depending on climate conditions and availability of food resources.[4]

In view of these findings it can be seen that jackdaws occupy varied habitat types to suit seasonal needs; some subpopulations make long distance movements whereas others move shorter distances within their respective ranges. This behavior helps them access better resources which aids survival during harsh winters or dry summers when food supply becomes scarce.

Physical Characteristics

The jackdaw is a medium-sized black-and-white bird, with distinguishing white cheeks and slender bill. Its head, neck and upper breast are glossy black while the lower parts of its body and wings are grayish or brownish grey. It has an impressive wingspan between 34 to 58 centimeters, making it one of the smallest members of the Corvidae family.

WingspanBetween 34 – 58 cm (13–23 inches)Medium
ColorationBlack & White; Glossy black on head, neck & upper chest; Grayish or Brownish Grey on underside & wingsVaries by location

Its average weight can range from 65 to 85 grams depending on sex and age. The Jackdaw typically lives in open areas including grasslands and agricultural land as well as around human habitations like gardens and parks. During breeding season they form large colonies which makes them easier to observe for research purposes. They often nest in cavities such as tree holes or crevices in buildings but also may use artificial nest boxes when available.

Jackdaws have adapted to different habitats successfully due to their ability to quickly recognize novel environmental threats and react accordingly. Their diet includes insects, seeds, fruits, small mammals, eggs, carrion and scraps from humans.

In urban areas these scavenging birds will even feed off discarded food waste from restaurants or homes that has been left out for them. The species is highly social throughout their lifetime forming strong bonds with family members through vocalizations as well as physical contact behavior like preening each other’s feathers.

Diet And Feeding Habits

The diet of the jackdaw is varied and opportunistic. The primary food sources for this species include insects, small vertebrates, fruits, grain, carrion, as well as human-sourced foods such as eggs and bread crumbs. Jackdaws are known to be particularly good at foraging in areas where there is a variety of food items available.

These birds are most active during the day when they search for their food by scavenging or stealing from other animals or humans. They will often take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself while searching for sustenance.

Jackdaws have been observed using several different methods to acquire their food:

  1. Foraging through leaf litter and soil to find invertebrates;
  2. Scavenging on carcasses or rubbish piles;
  3. Stealing directly from other animals’ nests;
  4. Taking advantage of bird feeding stations set up by humans.

In addition to these activities, jackdaws may also join mixed flocks with other corvids or even mammals in order to increase their chance of finding a meal.

This behaviour has enabled them to survive in numerous environments throughout Europe and Asia despite competition from larger predators such as eagles or foxes. It goes without saying that an understanding of the jackdaw’s dietary habits can help inform conservation efforts aimed at protecting them from extinction due to habitat destruction and overhunting practices.


Social Behaviour

Jackdaws are highly social birds, living in large flocks and displaying a range of sophisticated behaviours. They often exhibit complex social dynamics such as group foraging and hierarchical structures within their flock. Jackdaws also engage in mating rituals that involve specific displays of aerial acrobatics. In addition, they form strong pair bonds when nesting which can last throughout the year.

When it comes to foraging behaviour, jackdaws typically hunt alone or in small family groups but may join larger flocks during times of food scarcity. Studies have shown that this type of cooperative foraging increases overall efficiency by allowing each bird to cover more ground than if hunting alone. Furthermore, the presence of a large flock serves as an effective defence against potential predators.

Jackdaw nesting habits vary depending on season and location, though most nests are constructed using sticks and twigs placed in tree hollows or crevices. Nests are usually built prior to breeding season with both partners contributing materials and effort into its construction. During incubation, mates take turns sitting on the egg while one parent searches for food until hatching occurs.

The behavioural patterns exhibited by jackdaws demonstrate remarkable complexity and provide insight into avian cognition and intelligence development. Understanding these behaviours is essential for conservation efforts due to the species’ declining population numbers worldwide.

Breeding Habits

Jackdaws typically begin to nest-build in the early spring. The breeding season usually starts in late March and lasts until mid-June, but may continue into July depending on weather conditions. During courtship displays, male jackdaws will strut around with their wings spread out and tails fanned to attract a mate.

Upon successful pairings, egg laying commences about two weeks later as both partners take turns sitting on the eggs for incubation. Generally, a clutch size of four or five eggs is expected from each nesting pair; however, it can range from three up to seven eggs.

The young hatch after 18–20 days of incubation and remain at the nest site for 35–39 days before fledging. Once they have left the nest they are fed by their parents until independence is achieved at 6–7 weeks post fledging. Adult plumage is not attained until one year after hatching.

Jackdaw reproduction has been found to be affected by environmental factors such as temperature and food availability. Some adults may even attempt more than one brood per season if resources are abundant enough throughout the area during that time period.

Conservation Status

Jackdaws are currently considered to be a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Despite being categorized as a species of least concern, population numbers have decreased due to habitat destruction from human activities. As an endangered species, conservation efforts must be taken in order to protect jackdaw populations.

In the UK, jackdaws are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; this means that it is illegal to kill or injure them intentionally or recklessly. In addition, hunting jackdaws with guns has been prohibited since 2018. To prevent poaching and other forms of intentional killing, strict fines and penalties have been implemented.

Various organizations such as RSPB also promote awareness campaigns about conserving jackdaw populations through public education initiatives. These initiatives help raise awareness on how important jackdaws are to our environment and why protecting them is essential.

Organizations like RSPB also provide resources for people who want to learn more about how they can contribute towards preserving these birds’ habitats and preventing their population decline.


Jackdaws are highly intelligent birds with distinct characteristics and behaviours that make them an interesting species to study. Their habitats range widely across the Old World, allowing for a variety of research opportunities in different climates.

Physically they have distinctive markings on their faces and wings, as well as unique call patterns used when communicating with other members of their flock. They feed mostly on insects, grains, small fruits and seed; however they will also scavenge food from farms or city streets if available. Jackdaws live together in large flocks which allow them to be social creatures and form strong bonds within their colony.

Breeding is typically done during the summer months when conditions are favorable for raising offspring in safety and comfort. Finally, conservation status is currently listed as Least Concern due to their wide distribution across Europe and Asia.

In conclusion, the jackdaw is a fascinating bird to observe and study due its rich history and diverse behaviours throughout the world. It inhabits many regions where it forms tight knit colonies filled with complex social interactions between each member of the flock.

Its diet consists mainly of insects, grains, fruits and seeds but can vary depending upon availability in certain locations such as urban areas or farms. As far as breeding habits go it typically takes place during the warmer spring/summer months when conditions provide protection for young chicks while they develop into adulthood.

The current conservation status has been noted by international organizations at least concern though efforts should still be taken to ensure healthy populations remain intact into future generations so we may continue to enjoy this beautiful bird’s presence around us all year round!